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Hello to all,

Does anybody know if the original version of Evgenii Onegin has ever been published?

With the 'original version' I mean the one performed by his students at the Moscow Conservatory, without the revised third act, and with a much simpler orchestration than the one we know now...

If on top of the score edition there should be a recording available that would be even better : )

Tom Huygens

The Tchaikovsky Handbook, vol. 1 (2002), pp. 47–48 provides a full account of Tchaikovsky's revisions to the opera:

"Before the first production of the opera in March 1879, Tchaikovsky changed Onegin's last words in the final scena of Act III (No. 22, bar 396), from "O smert, o smert! Idu iskat' tebial" ("Oh death, oh deth, I seek thee!") to "Pozor, toska, o zhalkii zhrebii moi! (Shame, disgrace, oh my pitiful fate!). For some reason this change was not made in the first edition of the vocal-piano and full scores which Jurgenson published at the end of 1878.

In October 1880, Chaikovskii also rewrote Tatiana's words in the final scena of Act III (No. 22, from bar 363), and made some alterations to the stage directions to exclude the entry of Prince Gremin.

For a revival of the opera in 1885, Ivan Vsevolozhskii asked the composer to insert an Ecossaise into the first scene of Act III (letter 2751). According to a note in Modest Chaikovskii's diary, this addition was composed and scored on 22 August 1885. The Ecossaise appears twice: firstly in No. 20, where it replaced 28 bars of earlier material (after bar 28), and again at the close of No. 21 (from bar 75).

While Jurgenson was preparing a new edition of the score in June and July 1891, Chaikovskii introduced further changes to the opera, with alterations to many of the tempo markings. He also made cuts in Act II (No. 16: bar 36 was rewritten, the following 13 bars were excised, and the next 6 bars of Lenskii's part were rewritten) and in the Polonaise in Act III (No. 19: bars 41–48, 106–113, 124–131 were deleted)."

Brett Langston

Tom Huygens was interested in a recording of the pre–1885 version of the "Onegin".

I have not come across a complete earlier version, but I have one where two pieces, deleted in 1885 are preserved.

In 1958 the Lenfilm studio in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) produces a movie-opera "Eugene Onegin". The leading part of Tatiana was superbly performed by Ariadne Shengelaya and sung by Galina Vishnevskaya. The film director-script writer Roman Tikhomirov introduced a number of cuts to 1885 score, essential to convert a theatrical libretto into a movie script.

Thus the peasant dances are not in the script and arias of the Nanny and that of Prince Gremin are much shorter than in the libretto. He had however inserted into his script two short passages from the 1879 score.

The first insertion is in the Scene 1, Act 2 (the Valse at the country ball). The scene portrays a Tatiana's birthday party. When she comes downstairs to greet her guests, a small female chorus sings:

Pozdravlayem, pozdravlyaem Congratulations, congratulations
Shchast'ya zhelaem Our wishes of happiness
Pozdravlayem, pozdravlyaem Congratulations, congratulations
Shchast'lya zhelaem vahm. We wish you be happy.

The second 1879 insertion is much longer. It is in the Scene 1 Act 3. It takes place during the Ecossaise. The sounds of the dance fade and are overtaken by a small mixed chorus that sings:

Skazhite kto v tolpe izbrannoi Who is he who amid this splendor
Stoit bezmolvnyi i tumannyi? Stands silent and enigmatic?
Kto on takov? Uzhel Onegin? Who is he? Isn't he Onegin?
Da, tochno Yes, of course.
Vse tot zhe'l on? Is he the same?
Il' usmirilsya Has he calmed down,
Il korchit takzhe chudaka? Or still poses as a madcap?
Skazhite kem on vozvratilsya? Tell us what is he now?
Chem on predstavitsya poka? What image would he assume for a time being?
Mel'motom, kosmopolitom, patriotom? That of Melmoth*, cosmopolitan, patriot?
Garoldom il khanzhoi? Child-Harold or doody?
Il maskoi shchegolnet inoi? Or would he smart another guise?
Il prosto budedt dobryi malyi? Or would he be just a good guy?

* Melmoth—the main character from the novel "Melmoth the Wanderer" by Charles R. Maturin (1780—1824).

This opera-movie has been re-recorded on DVD by the Kultur Video, and is available in the NTSC format from Amazon and perhaps from or eBay.

The sharpness is average, the colour and sound are very good.

Alexander Geidelberg


I've just seen the post where you say:

"While Jurgenson was preparing a new edition of the score in June and July 1891, Chaikovskii introduced further changes to the opera, with alterations to many of the tempo markings."

As it happens, I had a look earlier today at the Russian 1953 vocal score of 'Onegin', and was struck by the fact that in every footnote I saw pointing out that the autograph had a different tempo marking, the 'original' marking was *slower* than the published one! How on earth can that be...?!? How can a composer decide that almost everything 'needs to be faster'....?!? As I say, I only had a few minutes to look through the score, so undoubtedly I missed a lot, and my impression might not be altogether accurate; but I'm certainly intrigued: would you happen to know if anyone has written in detail about Tchaikovsky's tempi here — or about his relationship to tempo and the metronome in general...?

Thanks for all thoughts!

Mark Doran

Just thought everybody would be interested in this:

George Boyd

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013