Eugene Onegin - May 2011

Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin - Stag Theatre Sevenoaks - 18th to 21st May 2011

Eugene Onegin, Pyotr Tchaikovsky's semi-tragic opera written in 1879 and performed last week by Kentish Opera at the Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks was certainly up to the high standard that we have learnt to expect from this vibrant and imaginative company.

I was especially struck by the chorus, their singing and diction was of a very good quality, both men and women. They were polished, acted well, produced a great sound and what's more, they clearly enjoyed it enormously! The addition of the two puppets was a innovative idea and although handling them must have been tricky, they really managed to make them 'come alive' in the their well-executed dance.

It would be unfair to single out any of the soloists, although I was impressed with Tatyana's (Ruth Kerr) stamina and skill as she kept up her long aria while writing her letter to Onegin with apparent ease. I found Onegin (Peter Grevatt) a little stilted in this part. Olga (Maria Jones) slipped easily into the part of the pretty, frivolous coquette that she was and Lensky (Stephen Brown) had all the qualities of the dreamy young poet. They made a most attractive pair as they danced together, before Olga's apparent betrayal leading to the fatal duel.






Much praise to Carol Stevenson for producing such wonderful costumes, in particular of course for the subtle blend the colours of the dresses for the ball scene, it really was a feast!

A special mention for the ubiquitous Monsieur Triquet, played by Christopher Ovenden who stepped into the Ball scene and, dare I say it, almost stole the show, with his slick wit, exaggerated French accent and flowery bows!

From my position at the back of the theatre, the orchestra, skilfully handled by Mark Fitzgerald, appeared to keep a steady balance of sound, which did not overpower the singers. A lovely bit of oboe playing too.

Final mention of course is due to the director, Sally Langford, for the hardest work of all. Her magic touch definitely shone through in this splendid production.

Pippa Hare

25th May2011

It is always a pleasure to visit a new group in my area and Kentish Opera certainly were welcoming on my arrival. Their production of 'Eugene Onegin' at the Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks this week is certainly an excellent evening's entertainment. From the moment the tabs opened to the last curtain call it was a joy to watch in many ways.

The Set designed by Enid Stutt was very open with the colour scheme teamed in autumn hues. The superb costumes by Carol Stevenson showed a great deal of thought and talent had gone into getting the opening to conjure up the feel of the autumn. Internal scenes were cleverly positioned, one didn't need huge bricks and mortar look-a- likes, this was simple and very effective. There were seven scenes and all were executed in the same way, just perfect.

Carol Stevenson had a huge task to costume this 'Eugene Onegin' with a cast of about 65 there wasn't a costume that looked as if it had been duplicated, they were superb in every way, style, period and colour.

Four excellent leading ladies in the hands of Ruth Kerr (Tatyana) Maria Jones (Olga) Maria Brown (Madame Larina) as the elegant Mother and Katy Bingham Best in the role of Filippyevna, the family's old nurse. As were Peter Grevatt ( Eugene Onegin) and Stephen Brown (Vladimir Lensky) all these were faultless in their portrayals both in singing and acting. Smaller roles were all in very capable hands, an excellent cameo from Christopher Overton (Monsieur Triquet) and Paul Hodges a good stage presence for (Prince Germin) very regal indeed. They were ably supported by Richard Broadly, Ian Alexander, Patrick Reynolds and Edmund Henderson. The chorus supported the leads well, sounding great and well rehearsed. They looked stunning throughout, but especially in the ballroom scene in act three, due to the wonderful costumes.

I particularly liked the chorography (Terry John Bates) the movement in act one was superb with the well devised puppetry. Added to this was the mood lighting by Colin Martin, he lit the whole production magnificently, this is very rare these days.

The orchestra under the baton of Mark Fitz-Gerald could not be more professional in its presentation.

Sally Langford your production of this 'Eugene Onegin' was very professional and you took your huge cast and worked them to a very high standard. This production was directed with a great attention to detail in all areas. Your cast have done you proud.

Thank you Kentish Opera for your invitation. I totally enjoyed my first evening with you.

Gordon Harris
District 5 NODA SE
19th May 2011

Dear Sally and Company,

Another magical evening for our little group - we did so enjoy it last night - several said to me "The best yet!"

The choruses are always such fun to watch as well as listen to, there is always something happening in every direction, not to be missed, accompanied by the wonderful singing of your faithful chorus,

We loved the staging and the simplicity of the sets that gradually became more detailed as the story unfolded - and then the grandeur of the ballroom scene and those wonderful costumes filled the stage.

We all marvel at how you can continue to produce such splendid entertainment for us year upon year - with always fresh ideas and sights and sounds for our enjoyment.

Congratulations to you and all who back you in your efforts, Enid Strutt, Carol Stevenson and Colin Martin and your faithful chorus, not forgetting Richard.

Good luck for the rest of the week and we look forward to our next visit.

Very best wishes to you all,

Patricia Mackenzie

20th May 2011