Eugene Onegin at Buxton Opera House shines on all fronts

Shelley Jackson (Tatyana) and George Humphreys (Eugene Onegin). Photo by Genevieve Girling.
Shelley Jackson (Tatyana) and George Humphreys (Eugene Onegin). Photo by Genevieve Girling.

A lovely production of Tchaikovsky’s melodious opera Eugene Onegin certainly got this year’s Buxton International Festival off to a good start, writes Mavis Kirkham.

Eugene Onegin is an opera full of lyrical themes and lively dances. The Northern Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Adrian Kelly, did full justice to the music and we all came away with the melodies in our minds and the dance rhythms in our feet.

The young cast, all making their Buxton debuts, fitted Pushkin’s story and Tchaikovsky would have approved since he offered the first performance to students at Moscow Conservatoire.

Shelley Jackson’s powerful soprano fitted well the heroine Tatyana as the passionate girl who is rejected by Onegin and as the mature and loving matron who rejects him at the end of the opera.

George Humphrey’s baritone matched her well in the role of Onegin. Joshua Bloom’s bass aria was truly beautiful when, in the role of Prince Gremin, Tatyana’s husband, he sang of his love for her.

The Buxton International Festival Chorus maintained the excellent standard we have come to expect of them in their singing, dancing and acting. The choreography by Jasmine Rickets was impressive.

The staging was very good. The lighting, by Zoe Spurr, was wonderful, convincingly transforming a plain set into a convivial rural scene, the bleak site of a duel at dawn, or a lavish ball as well as conveying more subtle changes.

Silhouetted figures were used very effectively to set different scenes emotionally as well as stating the roles involved.

This is a very good production, from every angle and it is sung in English. I strongly recommend it.

Eugene Onegin continues its run at Buxton Opera House tonight (Wednesday, July 10), July 14 and July 16.