Eugene Oneginis an opera adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s novel by the same name. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who uses music to bring the dramatic effect in it, composes this opera. What makes Eugene Onegin stand out are the dramatic elements used in the opera. Action is one of the dramatic elements evident in the story line.This romantic opera uses dance as a way of passing important messages to the audience. All the characters perform choreographed dances as the story progresses. The dances in Eugene Onegin show the cultural identity of the Russians. During the 19th century, most of Russian artist like Tchaikovsky embarked on the plan to incorporatetheir culture into their pieces of art (Brown 9). Therefore, the composer user dances to help integrate the Russian culture with some western styles within Eugene Onegin.
Tchaikovskystarts the opera with a tone that shows flirting and lovean element that builds expectation of romance (Brown 9). Tatyana herself falls in love to Onegin and writes a letter to him to express her obsession. The sisters set the tone of romance as the opera begins; however, Onegin seems to suppress this tone as he refuses to accept Tatyana’s proposal. Tatyana comes out as a good singer who outshines everyone else in the opera. It seems that Tchaikovsky was influenced by the romanticism era when coming up with Eugene Onegin.
Music is a powerful tool that acts to create timing and rhythm of the opera. The music sets the pace for the movement and dances by the characters. Tchaikovskyuses libretto in order to give a different feeling to Alexander Pushkin’s novel. The rich poetic language in Pushkin’s work may have informed the libretto. The opera has seven lyrical scenes that show some of the dramatic moments of the characters.Tchaikovsky uses music to illuminate the characters according to their ability to succeed. For instance, Tatyana comes out as the best from her letter-writing music. However, Onegin’s music shows him as a person incapable of developing genuine feelings.
Color in this opera shows the reality of the autumn season in the remote Russian town. The act takes place in a setting that gives the audience the reality of the season, especially to people familiar with Russia. Historical details come out because of certain aspects like color and the use of other elements within the stage. Other than the correct use of real color, the opera uses color to show that difference in characters. For instance, the opera shows the brightness of the Tatyana’s character from the beginning of the play. On the other hand, Tchaikovsky seems to avoid coloring characters like Onegin, only doing so as the opera progresses.
The opera is full of action that creates tension at certain points. The duel between Onegin and his friend at a party is part of the action that shocks the audience. It serves to build tension after the unanticipated death of Onegin’s friend. On the same note, the composer uses climax as a way to end the story. Onegin comes back after fives only to find out that Tatyana has married the prince. He pleads for her love but Tatyana insists she has to remain faithful to her husband, even though she feels some love for him (Brown 12-15). The climax shows that inability of Onegin to find the love he had rejected at the beginning of the play. Costumes are used in the opera to indicate the Russian romantic lifestyle. On the other hand, the composer fails to use other elements like aria, chorus, recitativeand harmony.
Brown, David. Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music. Pegasus Books, 2007.