“Eugene Onegin”

years ago, when I first started paying
attention to opera, I listened to Joan
Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti
singing “La Traviata” on my
headphones for six months solid,
Alfredo, Alfredo, I sang, di questa
core / Non puoi comprendere tutto

now there’s “Eugene Onegin“,
Tchaikowsky’s homage to Pushkin,
the celebrated Russian poet who
wrote the national epic, turning it
into another prideful, musical this
time, monument

at first I’d been reluctant to take it on,
wary of other too ponderous Russian
productions, all heavy and lugubrious,
fraught with the trying tribulations of
too many harsh winters, I fathom

but after only a brief folkloric
interjection, too ecclesiastical a
reference for me, the story moved on
to less pompous things, an unfolding

Onegin is a rake, a rogue, a young
man not yet smitten, Tatyana, a
country lass but from a good manor,
hopelessly falls in love with him

he, of course, will break her heart

he will also break the heart of his
friend Lensky, when he dances an
écossaise, a grand waltz, and a
cotillion with Olga, Lensky’s
intended, and, parenthetically,
Tatyana’s sister

Olga had, injudiciously, allowed
Onegin to flirt

Lensky, offended, challenges
Onegin to a duel

in an aria that will haunt you forever,
Lensky commits himself to his fate,
be it Olga or the ineluctable hereafter,
knowing that she couldn’t either have
much loved him

you’ll cry

Kuda, kuda, you’ll also sing, kuda
vy udalilis,
like I will into surely at
least next month

I won’t tell you who wins, but it’s

and unforgettable