Eugene Onegin

The Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday, February 20.

There’s a good deal to love about Eugene Onegin—the joyous, robust choral numbers in the first act; the presence of a heroine with a modicum of independence and fire; Lenski’s gorgeous preduel aria and the way fragments of it weave themselves into the final act like ghosts—but what tickles me most is the opera’s scant affection for Onegin himself.

As I understand it, Aleksandr Pushkin’s novel romanticizes the jaded, discontented aristocrat, but Tchaikovsky’s adaptation clearly sides with the innocent but resilient Tatiana and the idealistic poet Lenski. As far as the composer is concerned (he also put together the libretto), Onegin rightfully reaps the misery he sows. The result of that outlook is a beautiful but oddly plotted opera without a hero—romantic music with a weirdly unromantic plot. I like it!