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December 17, 2021 10:01 am

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Photo by Y. Ivanko.

Read about how the new performance was created and what the director was inspired by in the article.

On December 16, the premiere of the new musical took place at the Taganka Theater. Its creator is Alexei Frandetti, popularizer of the musical, who in 2017 for the first time forced theater actors to work in this genre in the play “Sweeney Todd, the Maniac Barber of Fleet Street.” This time he turned to the novel in verse “Eugene Onegin” by Alexander Pushkin and the works of foreign colleagues. The musical “Onegin” is a variation on the theme of the famous Canadian musical Onegin. For details, see the article.

Attention: you need a QR code to visit the show. Don’t forget about personal protective equipment and social distancing in the theater.

Rock classics

From Pushkin’s times – to the conventional 1970s. Eugene Onegin changed the carriage for a bus, and a tailcoat and top hat – for a leather bomber jacket in the spirit of Freddie Mercury. A fatal riff sounds. This is Tatyana Larina, dressed in a light dress and rough boots, composing her letter without letting go of the electric guitar. A huge bright bus is the main element of the decoration: in the course of the action, it transforms into a cozy dwelling full of vinyl records, then into a food truck. The costumes of the 19th century burst into the eclectic atmosphere created by the artist Anastasia Pugashkina closer to the finale, but they are nothing more than masquerade here. It’s just a ball at which the title character and Tatyana, rejected by him, meet – a costume party.

Director Alexei Frandetti calls his production an absolute hooliganism. “To combine indie rock, hippie culture, Tchaikovsky’s music and Pushkin’s poetry in one production is a challenge for the brave,” he says. “Eugene Onegin” is not an ossified classic: these are modern heroes and a story that can happen at any time, the director is convinced. Therefore, there is no grandiose drama in his musical.


Onegin from Canada

This performance is an interpretation of the musical Onegin, which became one of the main cultural events in Canada in 2016. In the collection of prizes received by the performance, there are at once 10 awards of the Canadian Theater Award named after Jesse Richardson, which is awarded for achievements in the field of professional theater. Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille – the famous tandem of the creators of musicals – took as a basis the libretto of the opera by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in 1879, translated into English. Alexey Frandetti translated the text back.

The work took a lot of time – it took about two months for Tatyana’s letter alone. The text had to ideally fit into the music of Canadian authors, remaining as close as possible to the Pushkin style.

“I understood that all the same it should sound here, for example,“ I am writing to you ”. I got it “I’m writing to you,” says the director.

The musical Frandetti does not exactly repeat the performance of its Canadian colleagues. In some places, he considered it necessary to add the original text of Pushkin. He also slightly processed some fragments from Tchaikovsky’s opera, which are played in the production. All of this was approved by Gladstone and Hille, with whom Frandetti kept in touch during rehearsals.

To bring one of his favorite classics to life on stage has been a long-time dream of the director. The idea of ​​this performance was born several years ago during a visit to the State Historical and Literary Museum-Reserve of A.S. Pushkin in Bolshiye Vyazemy. A little later, Frandetti learned about the existence of the Canadian musical. In 2017, he began preparing a premiere for the Amsterdam Opera House. For a number of reasons, that performance did not take place, but there were some developments that were used in the current Onegin.

Onegin is the first production on a new stage of the recently merged Taganka Theater. The play has two cast: in both Tatiana is played by young actresses who recently graduated from GITIS – Sofiko Kardava and Natalya Inkova. For both, this is the first big role. Onegin is played by Maxim Maminov and Pavel Levkin. The latter has already worked with Frandetti in the musical The Last Five Years – in one of the main hits of the theater in 2019, he played the famous writer Jamie, who tells the story of his broken marriage.

19th century TV series

The novel in verse “Eugene Onegin”, published one chapter each in various magazines and almanacs, became a real sensation. The audience was waiting for the release of the new chapter with the same impatience with which they are waiting for the release of a new episode of a fascinating series: readers worried about the heroes, discussed new plot twists, made assumptions about its further development. Pushkin, just like the modern creators of the series, fueled curiosity, by all means ending the passage at the most interesting place.

However, the novel was also an intrigue for the author – sometimes he himself did not know where the plot would lead and how it would all end. The fifth chapter was constantly in wait for failures: first, the creator lost it at cards, then played it back, and then lost it. In total, it took a little over seven years to write the work. Over the years, Pushkin managed to accumulate a good fee – he was paid very decently for each part. The complete collection was published in 1833.

There was one more interesting detail for which Eugene Onegin won even greater respect and love. The fact is that at the time of the appearance of the first excerpt in 1825, only one novel in verse was known in the world – “Don Juan” by George Gordon Byron.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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