I’ve always enjoyed live shows, albeit of the rock and roll variety, however this year I’m expanding my arts and culture by attending more live theatre and as of last night, the opera.
To kick off its 49th season, the Vancouver Opera opened with Eugene Onegin last night. It’s a Russian tale, set in the late 1800’s and the music was masterfully crafted by Tchaikovsky. “Tatyana is a shy young country woman who soars when she meets the man of her romantic dreams. Eugene Onegin is the urban aristocrat who rejects her. But Onegin’s callousness twists on him, leaving him filled with regret and despair.”
Although the Queen Elizabeth Theatre itself is under renovations (and I heard many complain cheekily about the seats, which will hopefully be replaced in 2009) the look of the opera itself was dazzling.
The sets were simple yet the colours, angles, and use of space was brilliant. They brought the outdoors in for scenes in the forest and dreary snowy plains. There were dancers that pranced and glided across the stage in joyous settings and at parties with high society (along with gossip and scandal) in grand ballrooms. The only visual artistry that could top the sets was that of the costumes – from peasant garb to royal gowns, all were superb.
In Act I, Scene II we look into Tatyana’s bedroom, which is elevated and framed on stage. My mother said it was, “like a window into her soul.” Through Rhoslyn Jones‘ emotional and heartfelt delivery of this scene we could sense Tatyana’s anxious passion in a way that only an operatic aria could reach out to us. Along with Rhoslyn (who is a local talent) the rest of the cast was also in top form – as well as the orchestra and chorus.
Brett Polegato (Eugene Onegin), Oleg Balashov (Lensky), Allyson McHardy (Olga), Marcia Swanston (Filippevna), Norine Burgess (Madame Larina), Peter Volpe (Prince Gremin), James McLennan (Triquet), and Chad Louwerse (Zarestsky/Captain).
The evening was also made possible by the Boxer family, who paid tribute to their late father and husband, Joe Boxer, long-time director of the Vancouver Opera Association (there is also the Joe Boxer Memorial Scholarship presented by the Vancouver Opera Foundation).
Performances are all in Russian (with English surtitles) and they run November 25th, 27th and 29th, 2008. Tickets start at $23.35 and there’s also an option to subscribe if you’d like to have priority seating for the season.
Heading to an opening night show (and the backstage party) was a treat, and I’m hoping to get out to more performances this year including a rumoured blogger night at Carmen that I might just help organize – especially since the opera already has its own blog.