Opera Scotland

Eugene Onegin 1979Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Eugene Onegin

The 1979 Festival featured operas from two British companies. Kent Opera made their only visit, following their successful incursion to Stirling with Orfeo. They provided excellent stagings of Verdi (La traviata) and Gluck (Iphigenia in Tauris). Scottish Opera produced a new Eugene Onegin, as well as revivals of two of their very best productions, The Golden Cockerel and The Turn of the Screw.

Scottish Opera mounted its first staging of Eugene Onegin at the 1979 Edinburgh Festival with great success. Alexander Gibson had conducted it in his Sadler's Wells days and also been in charge of a revival of Peter Hall's staging, in a rare visit to Covent Garden. It remained a work he returned to regularly until shortly before his death.

As with his wonderful Meistersinger, David Pountney seems to have seen no reason to update the setting, so there was little that Pushkin would not have recognised. Performances used the translation by David Lloyd-Jones, with the exception of one excellent revival in Russian, when Sergei Leiferkus was persuaded to return to the company. An important feature of this staging was the realistic differentiation in choreography between the two balls - the chorus did all their own dancing, off course, but at the Larins' birthday party they were noticeably less stylish than at the grand ball later on.

This initial cast was particularly notable for the wonderfully lyrical Lensky of Anthony Rolfe Johnson. The Tatyana was Lilian Sukis, an excellent Lithuanian soprano based in Vienna, and she sang beautifully in excellent clear English. She also sang Mélisande with the company and made an appearance at Covent Garden in a revival of Così conducted by Karl Böhm. The other cast members were distinctly more familiar, but none the worse for that.

The run continued for three further performances in January 1980 and the staging was quickly revived in 1981.

Scottish Opera were providing the major operatic content of this Festival, with the new Onegin joining revivals of the wonderful stagings of The Turn of the Screw and The Golden Cockerel. Three different orchestras were used - the SNO for Onegin, Scottish Chamber Orchestra for the Britten and the BBC Scottish for the Rimsky. This highlighted the perceived need for the company to have its own orchestra available all the time for its entire repertoire.

Performance Cast

Madame Larina a widowed landowner

Claire Livingstone

Tatyana Larina's elder daughter

Lilian Sukis

Olga Larina's younger daughter

Cynthia Buchan

Filipyevna nurse to the sisters

Noreen Berry

Vladimir Lensky a neighbour, engaged to Olga

Anthony Rolfe Johnson

Eugene Onegin Lensky's friend

John Shirley-Quirk

Zaretsky a retired officer

Norman White

Monsieur Triquet a Frenchman, tutor to the sisters

Francis Egerton

Trifon Petrovich a captain

Halcro Johnston

Prince Gremin a retired general

Stafford Dean

Performance DatesEugene Onegin 1979

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

1 Sep, 19.30 4 Sep, 19.30 6 Sep, 19.30 8 Sep, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

19 Dec, 19.15 22 Dec, 19.15

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