Academic journal article Pushkin Review

"Eugene Onegin": A Scenic Projection

Academic journal article Pushkin Review

"Eugene Onegin": A Scenic Projection

Article excerpt



The already familiar room in Onegin's rural house. Same table, same rocker. ONEGIN sits in front of the mirror, immersed in procedures for hair-cutting and the cleaning and polishing of nails. Near him a HAIRDRESSER fusses around,


having just placed tongs for hair-curling on a special stand in the yellow light of a candle. Jars--little jars--little powder-cases --scissors--tweezers--rough nail files--little suede pillows--little brushes etc.

perhaps the intro


(hums under his breath)

Elle etait fille, elle etait amoureuse

Tweezers, applied to his temples, interrupt the song. In the doorway, a SERVANT with mail on a tray. ONEGIN, while the BARBER polishes the nails on his left hand, rummages with his right hand through the journals, rips open a package. Having half opened one, he throws it out; does the same with another. Under the pile of foreign Reviews and Spectateurs, the letter with a pink paper seal, already familiar to the audience. At a sign from ONEGIN, the BARBER cuts the edge of the envelope with a pair of scissors and hands the letter to his master. ONEGIN reads to himself:

   I'm writing you ... hmmm ... what else ...
   Is there ... to say?
   I know that now ... you may decide
   To censure me ... and turn away.
   If there'd been hope ... to hear your greeting ...
   All night and day ... til our next meeting.
   They say ... that you ... it's unappealing.
   And we ... don't shine ... but we, with feeling.
   Why did you ... I'd have never known ...
   Why did you ever visit us?

I b. celli + sax and below Tatyana

Pulls his left hand out from under the barber's little clippers and knives. Makes a sign for him to leave. The BARBER and the SERVANT hide behind the door in some confusion. ONEGIN takes hold of the letter with both hands, turns the page and reads it silently, raising his eyebrows.

Another! No, to no one else on earth could I now give my heart. It's been decreed on high, the will of heaven: I am yours.

Goes up to the table. Opens a drawer. Pulls out a little chest. The delicate sound of a key. Rummages around in the letters, souvenirs of love, a lock of someone's hair--smiles at the reminiscences. Tatyana's letter lies right alongside the chest, ready to go inside.


   I've known great beauties proudly distant,
   As cold and chaste as winter's snow,
   Implacable, to all resistant,
   Impossible to really "know."
   I've marveled at their morbid pride,
   Their flaunting of their natural virtue,
   And I confess, I fled them fast,
   As if I'd read above their brows
   The terrifying sign of Hades:
   Abandon Hope, Who Enters Here!
   For love offends these lovely ladies;
   They much prefer instilling fear.
   And I've known other charmers, too,
   Impervious and self-absorbed,
   Inured to passion and to praise
   From all their loyal devotees.
   And what did I, amazed, discover?
   On scaring off some timid lover
   With their severe and rigid tone,
   They'd lure the fellow back again!
   And credulous, as blind as ever,
   The youthful lover, with his yen,
   Would chase deluded hope again.
   So why is Tanya more to blame?
   Because she fails to see deception?
   Because her sweet and simple heart
   Believes that love is not a game?
   Because ...

A piece of Tatyana between the lines


T. again


1b. celli

He wants to throw the letter into his little chest, the cemetery of his romances. But the final page of the letter restrains his hand; he re-reads it:

   "So be it then. Henceforth I place
   My faith in you and your affection
   I'm writing with a tear-stained face,
   And begging you for your protection."

He abruptly pushes the chest aside. The letter remains on the table. …

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