Tatyana thinks she's met her dreamboat in Eugene Onegin. He turns out to be her shipwreck.
On Oct. 25, LSU Opera opens "Eugene Onegin," the story of a selfish, rich man who rejects a young, idealistic woman's love and lives to regret his blasé rejection.
"And when Onegin realizes he is wrong, it's too late," says Andre Chiang, who plays the title character.
The opera will be staged in the Claude L. Shaver Theatre in LSU's Music and Dramatic Arts Building with a Russian winter stage set to welcome Louisiana's cooler temperatures.
"Nutcracker" composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky adapted Russian poet and novelist Alexander Pushkin's novel for the stage, retaining much of the novelists' poetic writing style in the libretto, or lyrics, which are performed in Russian.
The production premiered in 1879 in Moscow and is considered the most popular opera in Russia.
"It's really a progressive story for the times, because in those years she may have gone back to him, because of her limited options," says soprano Lindsey van Holten, who plays Tatyana. "But Tatyana doesn't. She starts out reading romance novels, and she thinks that's what her life will be when she meets this man. But things don't turn out that way, and she grows and she looks to the future. It's really about her coming into her own power as a woman."
Van Holten, 23, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a second-year student in the LSU School of Music's master's program. Chiang, 33, of Mobile, Alabama, is a second-year student in the school's doctoral program.
"Tatyana becomes such a strong character," says van Holten, who had to learn to sing in Russian.
The opera is different from others in that there are no mad scenes or overblown drama.
"It defies convention, because it's not larger than life," Chiang says. "That's what's so amazing about it. It just follows the story of this complex, young man who thinks highly of himself. He's worldly, and he becomes so bored that he reverts back to his youthful pranks."
One of those pranks results in a tragedy, which awakens Onegin. He suddenly realizes what is important in life and turns to Tatyana. But Tatyana's experience with him has pushed her to grow up.
"She's 17 and he's 25," Chiang says. "He's older, and at the time the age difference was significant."
Guest director Octavio Cardenas is at the helm of this production.
An LSU Opera production
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25-27, 3 p.m. Oct. 28
WHERE: LSU Music and Dramatic Arts Building, Claude L. Shaver Theatre, LSU campus
TICKETS: $14-29, lsu.edu/cmda/events/index.php