I’m not much of a YouTube gal. I mean, I like YouTube, but as a rule, I don’t spend a lot of time on it. But lately I’ve been searching for performances by some of my favourite singers. Hilariously, I came across a bunch of music videos that have Kelly Clarkson tracks acted out by ‘The Sims.’ Wow. Search ‘The Sims’ on YouTube and see the crazy stuff you come up with.
I have found a number of performances by two of favourite singers: Renee Fleming and Audra McDonald. The former is a huge star among sopranos in the opera world, and the latter has 4 Tony Awards.
So I stumbled upon a bunch of scenes from the Russian opera Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky. The only thing I knew about the opera was that it contained the famous ‘Letter Scene’ sung by the character Tatyana, a soprano, and a role Renee Fleming loves. So I found a translation of the libretto and watched the final scene of the opera. And I cried. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen.
The story goes something like this: Tatyana sees Eugene Onegin and falls in love with him at first sight. She writes a letter, telling him of her love, which she has her nursemaid deliver to him. He reads it and rejects. She is devastated. But she moves on and marries another man, whom she comes to adore and who loves her in return. Eugene realizes, too late, that he loves Tatyana and wants to be with her, so he goes to her. And this is where the last scene begins. She questions why he has come to see her, going so far as to accuse him of only wanting her money. He reveals that he has finally realized that he has loved her all along. She tells him that she, too, still loves him. But, she is married and has a duty to her husband, who is a kind man and loves her deeply. So she rejects him, but not until Eugene has almost driven her crazy.
The YouTube video I found is of the recent Metropolian Opera (New York) production of Eugene Onegin, conducted by the famous Russian conductor Valery Gergiev. It features Renee Fleming and the amazing Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin. The translation can be found here; go almost all the way to the end and find Act Three, Scene Two. The scene starts after the italicized stage directions: “Onegin appears at the door.” Or if you’re fluent in French, you can just read the subtitles.
Watch and enjoy.