Pushkin: Eugene Onegin
http://youtu.be/Cz7JREul22g Waltz from Act II
http://youtu.be/RgMjbDMg9Sg Peasant song and dance Act I
http://youtu.be/RhW_o1D4P3o Polonaise beginning Act III
http://youtu.be/zu15cjfksng Final Scene
It took Pushkin 8 years to write Eugene Onegin. The progress was interrupted by other works, including some major creations such as Boris Godunov, another work in verse which led to the composition of an opera of the same name by Moussorgsky. http://youtu.be/n_WOOZdVz9Y
Most of the novel in verse was written in exile from Saint Petersburg. Pushkin didn’t expect to be able to publish it at all, and his letters to friends reflect this. He would say that he was writing with an unusual feeling of freedom since he wasn’t taking into considerations the whims of the censorship.
In the end, Evegenii Onegin was published, but as you can see from the omitted stanzas, some parts, in additions to what Pushkin himself decided to remove, were indeed censored for various reasons.
Form and Style.
Pushkin does seem to have invented (before him long verse narratives were reserved to epics. Byron’s mock-epic Don Juan preceded Pushkin’s work, however it was not specifically called, nor was written as, a “novel.”
The verse form of Evgenii Onegin is also unique and new to the work, and also an invention of Pushkin. Almost the entire work is made up of 389 stanzas of iambic tetrameter with the unusual rhyme scheme “AbAbCCddEffEgg”, where the uppercase letters represent feminine rhymes [ \ _] while the lowercase letters represent masculine rhymes [ _ \] where [_] represents an unstressed syllable and [\] represents a stressed syllable. This form has come to be known as the “Onegin stanza” or the “Pushkin sonnet.”
The Pushkin Sonnet, even more than the Shakespearean sonnet, is so idiosyncratic, that any use of it has become a nod to Pushkin or an imitation of the poem Eugene Onegin itself.
Pushkin used both the literary conventions of the time in the composition, and genuine folkloric details, to draw a rich picture of his story-world. He didn’t, and didn’t mean to, paint a sweeping portrait of contemporary society, but of the life of some people, and of their personal interactions.
The author (Pushkin as his public, author persona) is very much present in the novel. He is the Narrator, a character who “met” Onegin at some point, but who is also the author of other Pushkin works (Ruslan and Liudmila, et al). He’s a very erudite character who compares people and situations to mythology, European, Arabic, and Classical poetry, and even to Russian contemporary authors and poets, but is very aware of the behaviors of people of all ranks and strata of society.
(notes and references from book)
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24, (Russian: Евгений Онегин, Yevgény Onégin) is an opera (“lyrical scenes”) in 3 acts (7 scenes), by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto was written by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer and his brother Modest, and is based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin.
Eugene Onegin is a well-known example of lyric opera; the libretto very closely follows Pushkin’s original, retaining much of his poetry, to which Tchaikovsky adds music of a dramatic nature. The story concerns a selfish hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman’s love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend.
The opera was first performed in Moscow in 1879.