Cast | 06.05.2017
It is harvest season on the country estate of Madame Larina in the Russian countryside. As they bottle berries, the widowed landowner and the old nurse chat about the past, about their disappointments in life, and accepting routine as a substitute for lost happiness. Of the two daughters of the house, the lively, happy-go-lucky Olga is full of joie-de-vivre, while the quiet, withdrawn Tatyana immerses herself in books and drifts off in daydreams. One day visitors arrive: Olga's fiancé, the starry-eyed young poet Lensky, introduces his friend and neighbouring landowner Eugene Onegin, a sanguine city dweller and libertine. Whist Lensky beleaguers the fun-loving Olga with declarations of love, Onegin's elegance and superiority make a deep impression on the shy Tatyana. The hero of her novels, the projection of her dreams and imagination seems to be standing before her.
That night in her room, Tatyana can find no rest, and even the nurse cannot distract her. Tatyana therefore decides to write a letter to the man who has so unexpectedly entered her life. Anxiously to begin with, then increasingly recklessly, she bares her soul, revealing her emotions to Onegin. When the two meet in person, Tatyana is disappointed, and even humiliated, by Onegin's condescending reply. Although he admits that he is very fond of her, he mistrusts his feelings in the long term and tells her that marriage is not for him. Deeply hurt, Tatyana withdraws, as the girls picking berries in the garden sing mischievously of love's happiness.
Months later; it is now winter. A country ball to celebrate Tatyana's name day brings the invited neighbours welcome relief from the monotony of their everyday lives. Onegin has allowed his friend Lensky to persuade him to attend the ball as well. However, he soon becomes so annoyed by the other guests' gossip about his extravagant lifestyle that he resolves to play a trick on his friend. He repeatedly dances with Olga, flirting very ostentatiously with her, and she coquettishly responds to his advances. In a fit of jealousy, Lensky flies in to a rage. Before the assembled company, he indignantly demands that Onegin account for his behaviour, finally challenging his pretended rival to a duel.
On a cold morning, Lensky is waiting for his opponent. Filled with premonitions of death, in his thoughts he bids farewell to his life and his beloved Olga. When Onegin arrives, both of them know the futility of their undertaking, and realize how precious their friendship is. However, neither of them manages to call off the duel. It is only when Lensky is mortally wounded that Onegin realizes the terrible thing he has done.
Several years have passed, and Onegin has moved away from his country estate. However, though he has travelled far and wide, he has not yet come to terms with the death of his friend. Neither has he been able to shake off his feelings of remorse, nor found anything to give his life meaning again. Hardly has the restless Onegin returned home than Prince Gremin invites him to a celebration in St. Petersburg, where he once again feels completely alone. Suddenly he realizes that his hostess is Tatyana, whom he had almost forgotten about. She has since become the wife of the distinguished general and a highly admired princess. When Prince Gremin tells the bewildered Onegin of his happiness with Tatyana, Onegin realizes what a terrible mistake he has made. The contemptuous dandy is overcome by a turmoil of unfamiliar emotions. In an impassioned letter, Onegin begs Tatyana to hear him out. His unexpected appearance at the ball has also disrupted Tatyana's painstakingly won peace of mind. Now they both lament the happiness they allowed to slip away. When Onegin increasingly vehemently urges her to give up her marriage and abscond with him, she admits her unbroken love - but at the same time affirms her commitment to Prince Gremin. Left alone, Onegin despairs at ever finding a meaning to his unfulfilled life.
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Co-production with Tokyo Opera Nomori