[Met Performance] CID:197250
Eugene Onegin {31} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/15/1964.

(Debut: William Dooley
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 15, 1964
In English


EUGENE ONEGIN {31}
P. I. Tchaikovsky-P. I. Tchaikovsky/Shilovsky

Eugene Onegin...........William Dooley [Debut]
Tatiana.................Leontyne Price
Lensky..................Jess Thomas
Olga....................Rosalind Elias
Prince Gremin...........Giorgio Tozzi
Larina..................Gladys Kriese
Filippyevna.............Lili Chookasian
Triquet.................Andrea Velis
Captain.................Louis Sgarro
Zaretsky................George Cehanovsky

Conductor...............Thomas Schippers

Director................Henry Butler
Designer................Rolf Gérard
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov
Translation by H. Reese

Eugene Onegin received eight performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday Review

A New Trial for 'Onegin'

Those who contend that there is an evening of absorbing musical theater in Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" may have a weight of circumstantial evidence to support their case, but it is still to be proven in the court of opinion that convenes at the Metropolitan Opera House. Considering that it can muster a famous scene for soprano in the first act as well as solos and duets for the baritone, a celebrated tenor air in the second, and an opportunity for the basso to roll profoundly in the third, while reminders recur of Tchaikovsky's pre-eminence as a ballet composer, the case for the defense would seem overwhelming.

When the issue was last argued (in 1958) the presentation for a favorable verdict was less than convincing. Currently the defense has enlisted one of its most persuasive counsels - a veritable Portia - to make its [first] and closing plea. Apt as she is in criminal cases (such as Aida vs. the state of Egypt, or the killing in self-defense of Baron Scarpia), Leontyne Price has yet to prove her equal abilities in domestic relations. These, after all, turn on delicate nuances of character as well as a grasp of situation, and Miss Price was at a disadvantage in dealing with the wavery character of the youthful Tatiana. She excels in broad strokes of musical logic, which do not yet suffice for a certain letter of intention addressed to Onegin. There was greater weight in her closing address of renunciation, but the whole case could have been better prepared.

Among new attorneys who were gathered to strengthen Tchaikovsky's case were William Dooley, who has not previously appeared in this court, in the title role; Jess Thomas, well known for briefs on behalf of German clients, and Lili Chookasian, a dependable barrister for any case involving delinquent mothers, suspect aunts, doting nurses, etc. Dooley showed excellent vocal endowment, seriousness of purpose, and composure under trying circumstances. He is undoubtedly destined to win a majority of decisions on which he goes to trial, for he showed strong powers of persuasion in dealing with a case as complex as Onegin's. Thomas's appeal for Lensky was intelligently made, though it is questionable that he is as yet able to bear so heavy a burden as this plea.

One could go on in similar vein to apply such imagery to the renewed efforts of Rosalind Elias as Olga and Giorgio Tozzi as Prince Gremin. But this would leave out of accounting the non-atmospheric effect, in key assignments, of Henry Butler as stage director and Thomas Schippers as his musical coequal, What this Onegin lacked was not so much malleable vocal materials - Miss Price has much of that, as do Messrs. Dooley and Thomas - as a pervasive sense of style, or an informed point of view, or even a show of great personal conviction, from those charged with instructing the others in their undertakings. As an example: the changes of tempo that make Tatiana's Letter Scene the fluid thing it is were only mechanically provided, while the slow tempo for Prince Gremin's air brought it to the brink of inanimation, at the same time putting difficulties in the way of Tozzi's articulation of it. Furthermore, an insistent three-four is not the way to make the waltz of Act II really dance (aside entirely from the lacks of Zachary Solov's choreography). So, in the end, the verdict must be "Not Proven," with a dismissal "without prejudice" for some future argument on the same subject



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