An Open Rehearsal of Eugene Onegin

By Jenny Kingsley

Proudly, I am writing now as a supporter and member of the Development Committee of OperaUpClose.

Hence, a few weeks ago, I grabbed the opportunity – now this was a sublime operatic chance - to watch a rehearsal, with other supporters, of Eugene Onegin. In a very warm and bright rehearsal studio at the Arcola, we watched how the Director, Lucy Bradley, with steely determination, interwove movement, music (just on the piano) and voices into a vibrant setting. I felt as if the human feelings of dismay, jealousy, anger, desperation and confusion were thickening the air - the atmosphere steamed with sentiment.

Of course, the story has been transposed to suburban London in the 1960s, and there is not a huge chorus or orchestra. But being a newcomer to Eugene Onegin meant that I just accepted what I was seeing at face value and did not observe with thoughts of comparison or critique. I wanted to talk ‘some sense’ into Lensky and tell him not to be so self-indulgent and pull Onegin and Lensky apart when it was obvious that their foolish arguing could lead to a physical and potentially fatal fight. It seemed as if their muscular bodies were spiritually enflamed. Inside, I echoed the chorus when it essentially questioned why men are so enmeshed in territoriality.

When Robin gave me the musical manuscript to look at, I felt as if I was holding the Holy Grail!