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Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera, Eugene Onegin, is based on Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel of the same name. It provided Tchaikovsky with an opportunity to present everyday and authentic experiences on the stage, in contrast to the epic narratives that characterized much European opera of the time. After initial consternation that Tchaikovsky should set to music this pinnacle of Russian literature, Eugene Oneginquickly became a firm favourite with Russian audiences. Within a decade of its 1879 premiere it had been performed over one hundred times in St Petersburg. Tchaikovsky’s deep sympathy for his heroine Tatyana is shown in the tenderness of her music. Her yearning string motif opens the opera and it gains full expression in her letter aria in Act I – one of the most intense solo scenes ever written for the soprano voice. In Kasper Holten’s production, the turbulence of Tatyana and Onegin’s youth is contrasted with the self-realization they gain in later life. The staging foregrounds the power of memory and the futile desire to rewrite the past. Important Please Note: Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June 2015, will resume treatment in London on 3 January 2016 and therefore will no longer be able to sing the title role for the last two performances of this revival. Dmitri is disappointed at not being able to perform with us on 4 and 7 January. But we are certain that you will join everyone at the Royal Opera House in wishing him all the best as he resumes his treatment. Polish baritone Artur Ruciński who will now sing the role of Eugene Onegin on 4 and 7 January 2016. Artur has previously sung this role for Bavarian State Opera and in Berlin, Warsaw and Bologna. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2014 singing the role of Giorgio Germont in La traviata. Artur returns to The Royal Opera later in our current Season, when he will sing Enrico Ashton in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor.