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Eugene Onegin 1980

July 11 - August 22, 1980

Pushkin’s epic poem set in Imperial Russia…

…a story of young Tatiana’s unrequited love for the worldly Onegin.

Music By
Peter Tchaikovsky
Libretto By
Konstantin Shilovsky and Peter Tchaikovsky based on a verse novel by Alexander Pushkin


Act I

The scene is set in Russia in the late 1820’s and in 1830.

Scene 1: The Visit Late summer on the estate of Madame Larina, a gentlewoman and widow in somewhat reduced circumstances.

The song of Tatiana and Olga from inside the house reminds Larina of her own youth, infatuations and the arranged marriage she was forced to accept.

Her fieldworkers come to celebrate the end of the Harvest and to make the symbolic gift of a corn-doll to their mistress. Olga teases Tatiana, and the girls reveal the enormous difference in their characters. Tatiana is lost in romantic reveries while Olga, always ready to sing and dance, confirms that sighs and dreams are not for her.

There is a feminine flutter as Lensky, a young poet and Olga’s fiancé, arrives to introduce his worldly friend, Eugene Onegin, who has recently inherited a nearby estate. Tatiana realizes that Onegin is the long-awaited hero of her dreams. Onegin only indicates his boredom with life in the country. Larina calls them indoors as night falls.

Scene 2: The Letter Tatiana’s bedroom, that night.

Tatiana, restless and devoured with love for Onegin, cannot sleep. She pours out her heart in a long and passionate letter to Onegin. By sunrise the letter is finished and Tatiana has committed her love to paper. When Filipievna comes to waken Tatiana, she is sent to deliver the letter.

Scene 3: The Interview In the garden the next morning.

Tatiana runs in, full of foreboding and regret at the impending meeting with Onegin. He arrives to keep the appointment. He is charming and even brotherly as he explains that love and marriage are not for him. Had it been otherwise, he might have chosen Tatiana. Onegin quietly leads the humiliated Tatiana from the scene.

Act II

Scene 1: The Country Ball  At Madame Larina’s house, the following winter.

Tatiana’s name day, the twelfth of January, is being celebrated with a ball. However, what could have been a delightful occasion is clouded for Tatiana by the presence of Onegin. Onegin overhears some disparaging remarks about himself, confirming his own regret that he yielded to Lensky’s persuasion to attend the ball. He decides to take his revenge and flirts with Olga. What should have been a mere tease develops into something more serious.

Tatiana and Lensky are both aghast when Olga again agrees to dance with Onegin. Lensky publicly insults Olga and challenges Onegin to a duel, which he feels obliged to accept.

Scene 2: The Duel  At dawn next morning.

Lensky and his impatient second, Zaretsky, await the arrival of Onegin. Onegin appears and tries to make light of the situation; he even provides his valet to act as his second, to Zaretsky’s indignation, in the hope that Lensky will see the absurdity of it all and relent. Injured pride and convention inexorably lead to the duel. To Onegin’s horror, it is his friend Lensky who falls dead.


Scene 1: The Ball in St. Petersburg  In St. Petersburg in 1830.

Four years have passed, during which Onegin, haunted by Lensky’s death, has been travelling far and wide, and Tatiana has married the distinguished, elderly Prince Gremin.

At the ball Onegin is amazed to discover that the elegant and beautiful woman on Gremin’s arm is Tatiana. Gremin confirms that she has brought warmth and affection to his old age. Tatiana has also observed Onegin, but manages to betray nothing of the agitation she feels. Onegin realizes that he is now desperately in love with Tatiana and only she can redeem him from his present despair.

Scene 2: The Parting  A room in Gremin’s house the next morning.

Tatiana has persuaded her husband to close the house and return to the country. This decision has been prompted by the arrival of a passionate letter from Onegin, begging her to see him. When Onegin arrives, she reminds him of his rejection of her love. Both muse on the lost happiness that could have been theirs, but now their situation is reversed. Tatiana admits her love for him, but affirms her devotion and duty to her husband. She bids farewell to Onegin forever, leaving him distraught behind her.


Santa Fe Opera

Patricia Wells



Richard Stilwell headshot

Richard Stilwell


Eugene Onegin

Santa Fe Opera

Sandra Walker



Santa Fe Opera

David Rendall


Vladimir Lensky

Santa Fe Opera

Philip Booth


Prince Gremin

Santa Fe Opera

Jean Kraft


Madame Larina

Santa Fe Opera

Fredda Rakusin



Santa Fe Opera

Robert Grayson


Monsieur Triquet

Santa Fe Opera

Joseph Rich


A Peasant Boy

Santa Fe Opera

Susan Hartley


A Peasant Girl

Santa Fe Opera

Sherman Ray Jacobs


Captain Petrovich

Santa Fe Opera

Ken Davis



Santa Fe Opera

Matthew Lau


Monsieur Guillot

John Nelson headshot

John Nelson


Santa Fe Opera

James L. Dickson


John Conklin headshot

John Conklin

Scenic Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Suzanne Mess

Costume Designer

Peter Kaczorowski headshot

Peter Kaczorowski

Lighting Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Francis Patrelle


Colin Graham headshot

Colin Graham



George Manahan headshot

George Manahan


Chorus Master