Theatre in Wales

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Eugene Onegin MID WALES OPERA Aberystwyth Arts Centre: 28 February     

Eugene Onegin 
Aberystwyth Arts Centre: 28 February  Mid Wales Opera’s 2018 Spring tour marks a key moment in the company’s 30 year history - their first ever production of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical masterpiece Eugene Onegin which will be at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 28 February.

With a cast which mixes rising stars with more established talent, and an orchestra supplied by Wales based chamber music specialists Ensemble Cymru, the nine venue tour promises to be a real treat for Welsh audiences.

Originally titled as “Lyric Scenes, in Three Acts and Seven Scenes”, the opera combines Pushkin’s compelling and heart-breaking story with Tchaikovsky’s sweeping lyricism in a stunning exploration of love, death, life and convention.

For MWO’s Music Director Jonathan Lyness, this will be his third time conducting the piece and it has been a slow burn but is now a personal favourite. Jonathan told us : “I’ll be honest here; when I first conducted Eugene Onegin in 1995 I enjoyed a lot of it, but not all of it!

“When I later came back to it, conducting it for the second time in 2007 (this was for Longborough Festival Opera) I was pretty much sold, and on the third occasion in 2012 (this time at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol) I was overwhelmed. So, for me, it took a little time.

“The key thing about Onegin is its understatement. The opera does not wear its heart on its sleeve like some shiny gold wrist-watch, easily accessible and brandishing its Pucciniesque magnetism, but more like a quiet piece of beautifully executed craftsmanship, tucked under the cuff, ready and waiting to tear at your heartstrings if you care to take a peek.

“It’s full of passion, but the passion is more tender, more honest, more human. There are no histrionics in Onegin, no long-held high notes, no unnecessary outpourings front of stage, no coming and grabbing you by the scruff of the neck. This opera is beguiling, sensuous, beautiful and hypnotic.”

The role of Tatyana in MWO’s touring production will be played by British Soprano Elizabeth Karani who studied at both the National Opera Studio and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama opera school under the tutelage of Susan McCulloch. She previously trained at the Royal Northern College of Music under Susan Roper.

Elizabeth told us: “I think what excites me about Tatyana is that she's an ordinary girl and though she is a dreamer, by rights she should lead a very ordinary life. However, the things that happen to her and the journey she goes on allow her to explore and express huge depths of emotion.”

“She, and all the other characters in Eugene Onegin, are extremely relatable to an audience member and this, combined with amazing music, makes for an extremely enjoyable and heart-wrenching evening.”

Charismatic British baritone George Von Bergen takes the title role of Eugene Onegin, again a personal favourite, and he told us: “When I first performed Onegin in 2006 I was struck by the emotional immaturity of Onegin in stark contrast to the world weary life that he has already lead as a young man.

“We can relate to the character with his outward arrogance and seemingly frosty facade, concealing a sensitive and vulnerable man beneath. His series of bad decisions compel him to his wretched and desperate position in act 3, but audiences can rarely forgive him his mistakes and despite Lensky's absurd hysteria in challenging him to a duel, his earlier, pompous dismissal of Tatyana seem only unjustifiable. “

Wales based tenor Robyn Lyn Evans makes his role debut as Lensky on the tour and told us: “Eugene Onegin is an opera I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to perform for a long time. It’s got such beautiful music. I’ve never performed Lensky before, but everyone tells me it’s such a fabulous rôle. I’m also really looking forward to singing Lensky’s aria in context, as I did sing it some 20 years ago in the National Eisteddfod of Wales, however, that was in Welsh.”

The production will be the first partnership between MWO and Ensemble Cymru, two organisations who share a passion for bringing high quality chamber scale music to communities across the whole of Wales.

The tour opens in MWO’s home venue of Hafren, Newtown on February 24th, visiting Aberystwyth, Bangor, Newport, Mold, Brecon, Llanelli, Milford Haven and ending in Hereford on April 10th.

MWO’s recent SmallStages performance of Walton’s The Bear attracted four star reviews and critical acclaim with Richard Bratby writing for The Arts Desk “Walton's comic opera goes down like a shot of salted caramel Stoli in a sparky touring production” and Rian Evans of the Guardian, reviewing the show in Aberdaron on the wind-lashed Llyn Peninsula adding: “the Walton is definitely worth going out of your way to see. “

Tickets are available from the Arts Centre Box Office on 01970 62 32 32 or online at
Aberystwyth Arts Centre  
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Thursday, January 18, 2018back



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