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A superior dandy wreaking havoc on those who love him
This is an earlier opera by Tchaikovsky written 12 years before "Queen of Spades" and very different from it, although also by Pushkin. This was Roman Tikhomirov's first great opera screening, many consider it his best, and although consummate, there are problems, especially concerning the story. Eugene Onegin is not a sympathetic character, he is no hero but rather an intolerable cynic who behaves outrageously, and the story is rather sordid. Prince Lensky (tenor) brings his older friend Onegin to visit a family in the country with two lovely daughters, Lensky loves one of them and thinks Onegin would suit the other (Tatiana), who immediately falls desperately in love with Onegin and writes him a passionate love letter. Onegin answers insultingly with condescending arrogance, while he flirts with the sister, which outrages Lensky, who feels compelled to challenge his best friend Onegin to a duel. The less said about the rest, the better.
Vadim Medvedev is not quite convincing as Onegin. He is to polished and lacks that demonic attraction which hooks Tatiana. On the other hand, Igor Ozerov is perfect as Lensky, and all sympathy and compassion must be with him and Tatiana. Why didn't Tatiana take him on instead?
Tatiana is the leading character, she dominates the whole opera, her love letter scene is a centerpiece together with the two magnificent ballroom scenes, very different and excelling each other. These three scenes are the main outstanding credits of the film. Ariadna Shengelaya as Tatiana couldn't be better, she is the character that changes and develops, and every scene with her is adorable, especially in the beginning, when everything is still idyllic in pastoral bliss, wonderfully photographed mainly outside.
"Eugene Onegin" is less dramatic than "Queen of Spades", its story is more like a novel than like a drama, but the psychology of Pushkin is the main thing, making the book an everlasting classic in consummate verse all through, and the film matches it, no matter how little you can care for the rogue Onegin.
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