ALBUM TITLE: Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Eugene Onegin
PERFORMER: Bernd Weikl, Teresa Kubiak; JohnAlldis Choir, ROM Orchestra/Georg Solti; dir. PetrWeigl (studio film)
CATALOGUE NO: 071 124-9
Czech film-maker Petr Weigl has brought some six operas to the screen. His 1988 Onegin is a dull dog, set to a heavily cut version of Solti’s stolid 1974 studio recording- no prelude, first scene, second Ecossaiseot introduction to the final Tatiana/Onegin duet, little of nurse Filipyevna. Following old Flast European opera film methods, Weigl’s actors (especially a Timothy Dalton-like Onegin and a too old, Leslie Howard-esque Lensky) lip-synch with precision to a cast who match them little in age or motivation. This effort, ironically, renders their performances static and semaphoring in the ‘operatic’ tradition that their director surely sought to avoid.
Elsewhere, a Zeffirelli-like addiction to irrelevant beauty brings us the Larins in a ridiculously upmarket white-colonnaded palace, a Petersburg ball danced in sanitised museum-like halls and has every peasant a spotlessly scrubbed ballet dancer. The pictures are good, and the sound does justice to what’s left of Ray Minshull’s recording. For the real Pushkinesque commentary on society and bittersweet atmosphere rush to Martha Fiennes’s 1998 Onegin feature film; Arthaus’s DVD of Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s European Union Opera production of the same year will do for Tchaikovsky. Mike Ashman