Eugene Onegin - Further information
Peter I. Tschaikowsky
Peter I. Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky after Alexander Pushkin's verse novel
World première on March 29, 1879 in Maly Theatre, Moscow
The subtitle ‘Lyric Scenes’ which Tchaikovsky gave his most famous opera, ‘Eugene Onegin’, expresses the composer’s search for a new opera style. The opera is based on Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel of the same name. At the centre of the novel is the protagonist’s search for social identity. Tchaikovsky focuses on this motive and displays it in Onegin’s search for his own individual personality which is characterised by his encounters with Tatyana, Olga and Lensky. Onegin approaches his environment as an educated, experienced but also insensitive and at times arrogant personality. These unsuccessful encounters create vehement emotional outbursts. Tatyana, helplessly in love with Onegin, commits herself to an older man who offers her security and social status. Lensky is driven by Onegin’s reckless and humiliating behaviour into challenging Onegin to a duel and finally to death. In the end Onegin himself is cast aside by Tatyana.
The composer, who collaborated with
Konstantin Shilovsky to write the libretto, places his opera in an apparently everyday setting in which he creates the emotional backdrop for his protagonists. The world première in Moscow in March 1879, where the opera was performed by students of the academy, received little recognition. However, since its première in St. Petersburg, this unusual operatic work with its sensitive portrayal of the state of mind of the individual opened a new chapter in opera history and is performed worldwide.