Metropolitan Opera returns to Grass Valley theater screen |

Metropolitan Opera returns to Grass Valley theater screen


WHO: THE Del Oro Theatre in partnership with Music in the Mountains Presents

WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD “Eugene Onegin”

WHEN: 9:55 A.M. Saturday, Oct. 5

WHERE: The Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill Street, Grass Valley

TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Seniors, $15 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at or at the Del Oro Box Office

INFO:, 530-477-9000

This Saturday at Grass Valley’s Del Oro Theatre, Sierra Theaters presents Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” as the inaugural offering of the new season of The Met Opera Live in HD.

England has Shakespeare, Germany has Goethe and Russia has Alexander Pushkin, whose long narrative poem provides the source for Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

And masterwork it is; for those who only know the great Russian’s work through “The Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake” or “1812,” Eugene Onegin (pronounced Yev-gain-yeh Oh-nyay-gin) will offer a revelation. Unlike so much opera, it’s a simple plot, really: cynical man visits country family with his best friend, rejects the sincere love of a naïve girl, later flirts with naïve girl’s sister, enraging best friend, in love with said girl.

Duel follows. Much later, cynical man realizes his mistake, that he really does love naïve girl, all grown up, sophisticated, and, alas, married.

Heartbreak ensues.

There is much of the tragically doomed Pushkin (himself killed in a duel) in the character of Onegin, and there is much of Tchaikovsky in the libretto. The composer was himself pursued by a young woman with whom he was not in love. He received a letter from her, as does Onegin.

He coolly but politely put her off, as does Onegin. But, unlike the opera’s protagonist, Tchaikovsky relented, having convinced himself the woman in question would not survive his loss. He married her. Big mistake: mental and physical collapse, suicide attempt, divorce. Tchaikovsky seems fated to have set this score that in some ways mirrored his own neurotic emotional shipwreck.

The opera premiered in Moscow in 1879. It is a rich, melodic and tempestuous score, perhaps, as mentioned, reveals a Tchaikovsky unknown to you. The Met production is set in the period of the opera, not the Pushkin original of some 50 years prior.

One of the great sopranos of the day, Anna Netrebko, stars as Tatiana. When she delivers the “Letter Scene,” the audience will experience Tchaikovsky at his intensely passionate best. Mariusz Kweicien appears in the title role, a baritone of subtly nuanced vocal grace and power. Perhaps the greatest living interpreter of Russian music, Valery Gergiev conducts the fabulous Met orchestra.

John Deaderick is a local theater instructor, director, actor, and the author of “Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis,” available at

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