Lights at Lafarge

Vancouver Opera: Eugene Onegin

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 — 10:57am PST
Comments 6

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).

Photo by Tim Matheson

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.

Current contests on

  • Enter here to win a Canyon Lights prize pack from Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (until November 27)
  • Enter here to win tickets to Early Music Vancouver presents Handel's Messiah (until November 28)
  • Enter here to win a family pack of tickets to East Van Panto (until November 29)
  • Enter here to win tickets to Christmas at Fly Over Canada (until November 30)
  • View a complete list of contests »


  1. Raul says:

    My Mom used to be a soprano (not sure if I ever told you that), so I grew up with an appreciation for opera. My youngest brother loves it and we attended a few performances in Vancouver. I am really glad that you had a chance to attend opening night. It’s a treat in and of itself to experience opera this way. Great write up by the way 🙂 I loved it!

  2. Tris Hussey says:

    It was great to see you last night Rebecca. I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet Roz (she’s from Aldergrove). To add to your awesome post, this is a brand new production and Vancouver got to see it first!

    And this was Roz’s Canadian debut. Here is a pic of Roz and Sheila (our own blogging diva).

  3. David says:

    So glad that you did this writeup on the opera. I’m thrilled that this part of the Vancouver scene is getting coverage on your blog. Bet you it will boost ticket sales!

  4. […] November I was a guest of the Vancouver Opera for their season-opening performance of Eugine Onegin. I hadn’t been to the opera in over ten years and the experience was lovely. Since that time, […]

  5. […] I still enjoyed the show. Being that I know French it’s actually a lot easier to follow than Eugine Onegin (which was in Russian) so I didn’t have to look up as often to follow the sur-titles. The set […]

  6. […] season started with Eugine Onegin and since my review, and the first-ever Blogger Night when we experienced Carmen, the momentum in […]

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