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“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

Thirty-two playwrights, a half dozen directors, and around ninety plays in less than two hours. This is the South Florida One-Minute Play Festival, now in its fifth year, which runs this weekend. The festival, performed at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and curated by Caitlin Wees and Dominic D’Andrea, has become a phenomenon in its own right. South Florida’s version of the festival i..

Mention the Harlem Renaissance, and those who know their history would be able to tell you a little or a lot about that vibrant period in New York’s black social and cultural life. But bring up the New York Renaissance – also known as the Renaissance Big Five or the Rens – and you’d be likely to stump anyone who isn’t steeped in basketball lore. Playwright and director Layon Gray ..

Listen up, humanity. God has a bone (or 10) to pick with us, and we’d best pay attention. I mean, if he can zap the wing off an argumentative archangel – and he can – just imagine what’s in store for us. Or simply consider the news, post-election. David Javerbaum, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer of Comedy Central’s much-missed “The Daily Show with Jon Ste..

I saw Lorca en un vestido verde, the Spanish-language version of Nilo Cruz’s play Lorca in a Green Dress eight years ago on a cramped stage in Little Havana’s Teatro Ocho, where Rolando Moreno took on the task of directing four actors who play eight roles. Even with the limitations of the production, Cruz’s inventive and lyrical script made Lorca one of my favorites from the Pulitzer Priz..

Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (2016) is a masterful and engaging film exploring the dilemma of a singularly strong-willed, exceedingly attractive older woman who refuses to budge when power comes knocking at her door and tries to blow it off its hinges. A relative newbie to the director’s chair, Mendonça is a former film critic who layers a rich texture of skillfully developed metaphor..

The words that South Florida playwright Michael McKeever has chosen for his intense new play ‘After’ are powerful indeed. They would have to be, since his Zoetic Stage world premiere at Miami’s Arsht Center is a devastating piece about bullying, school violence and the moment when one horrific act destroys two families. But just as powerful as the words in “After” are the silences, as..

It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..

Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..

Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..

Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..

New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..

Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..

Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..

The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..

FGO Gets Intimate with ‘Eugene Onegin’

Photo: A dramatic moment in Florida Grand O’s Eugene Onegin. Photo Courtesy of Florida Grand Opera
Written by: Celeste Landeros
Article Rating

“Heaven sends us habits in place of happiness,” two women of a certain age observe in a famous line from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Yet the new Florida Grand Opera production makes the case that habit, or at least experience, might actually be the source of happiness.

In Onegin’s opening scene at the Arsht Center,two sisters sweetly sing of love’s sighs and sorrows. Soprano Dina Kuznetsova has a ruby-toned voice perfect for the role of the bookish, lovelorn Tatyana. Her tone blends nicely with the contralto of Courtney Miller, as her younger sister, Olga. But as their mother, Madame Larina, who recalls her own youthful folly, the more seasoned soprano Robynne Redmon brought greater confidence and power to the stage.

In the relatively minor role of Madame Larina’s servant Filipyevna, bona fide diva Denyce Graves sent a wave of excitement through the hall. The mezzo-soprano, famous for her turns as Carmen and Delila at the Met, outshined the rest of the cast, despite her gray wig and drab uniform.

But this was not an occasion for star power. As director Jeffrey Marc Buchman explains in his program notes, the FGO production rejects the typical operatic drama and spectacle to achieve what Tchaikovsky considered an even deeper human feeling: intimacy.

Though an opera hall is hardly an intimate space, a simple set of columns suggesting a natural birch tree forest gave even the ball room scenes a sense of nature and peace. This is the peace that Tatyana finally finds in her duty as a wife, but that forever eludes the title character, the careless and thoughtlessly cruel, Onegin.

As Eugene Onegin, looking very much the part with top hat and cane, and moving with the grace of a dancer, the dashing baritone Franco Pomponi could have stepped out of a Jane Austen novel or one of the romantic bard Byron’s poems. His voice has a sweet tinge that could easily seduce an impressionable girl, with none of the gravel often heard in this role to insinuate Onegin’s dissolute character.

Kuznetsova captured the wonder of first love in a famous scene where Tatyana writes Onegin a letter confessing her feelings. Her gorgeous, floating high notes ached with desire.

But if Onegin steals Tatyana’s heart, it is his faithful friend -- and Olga’s childhood love -- Lenski, who stole the show. Tenor Chad Johnson conveyed the pathos of a young man whose jealously has lead him to likely death in a duel with his best friend in a voice tremulous, but controlled.

In another opera, perhaps by an Italian composer, this tragic death might be the story’s end. Following his source, the Russian novelist Pushkin, and Chekhov after him, Tchaikovsky finds tragedy not in dramatic death, but the mundane persistence of life. As Prince Gremin, capably voiced by bass-baritone and FGO Young Artist Alex Soare, intones “all ages surrender to love.”

Unfortunately, conductor Alexander Polianichko did not surrender much to the cast. Tchaikovsky’s music is so full of feeling that the orchestra could tell the story all by itself, but the singers could have benefited from more sensitive pacing as the orchestra crowded even the most poignant moments.

Florida Grand Opera presents Eugene Onegin on Thursday, February 9 and Saturday February 11 at the Broward Center; tickets $21-$139; Fgo.org.

 


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