...as far as Tchaikovsky's opera is concerned, two: still, on DVD and in the opera house, Yelena Prokina for Graham Vick at Glyndebourne back in 1994. Here's the reaction of some of the students on my Opera in Depth course after I'd played it to them on Monday. I've cut down the bigger picture to focus on the best responses. One lovely person with a lifetime of astonishing musical experiences recalled emotionally what having seen it at Glyndebourne meant, and how happy she was to see it again now that she and her husband can't get there any more.
Two hours still weren't quite long enough on what turns out to be so many people's favourite operatic scene. Sound recording only wise, there was a strong positive reaction to my personal favourite here, Gabriela Beňačková in a Supraphon disc of Czech and Russian opera arias - I picked it up for a dollar when we spent a New Year in Prague a year after the Velvet Revolution. Vaclav Neumann conducts the Czech Philharmonic.
Parallel with the opera, we're also listening to some of the Pushkin text, in both the English translation of Charles Johnston and the Russian original, in two recordings featuring the very beautiful incidental music provided by Prokofiev for a 'stage realisation' of the verse novel intended for the centenary year of Pushkin's death, 1937, but destined never to see the light of day (Prokofiev repurposed much of the music in War and Peace as well as several other later scores).
We treasure the reading of Wests Timothy and Same, and Niamh Cusack as Tatyana, in Edward Downes' realisation on Chandos, but I thought it might be most interesting for you to hear Tatyana's letter to Onegin as read by Chulpan Chamatova, with the late Mikhail Jurowski conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in the music that occasionally punctuates the text. You can have your English translation to hand if you need it. I originally found the recording broken into tracks, which would have been most convenient but doesn't work in this format. Here's the whole thing. The Letter begins at 15m32s.
Meanwhile on Thursdays, the Sibelius course is taking us all deeper and broader than I could ever have imagined. The most recent class, 8, featured not only the String Quartet 'Voces Intimae', which I'm getting to know and admire better, but three orchestral works I love most of the so-called tone poems, all composed within a relatively short space of time. I am now obsessed with hearing them all in a single Sibelius half of a concert programme. Luonnotar for soprano and orchestra is the creation myth, and could be followed by The Bard, a voiceless singer strumming his lyre until the sound of primitive lurs summons him, a kind of Ragnarok that goes profoundly within; and then one could have the purification of water in The Oceanides.
Well, I can dream, can't I? Now there are four more summer term Zoom classes to go, then a break, then the Wagner Society of Scotland wants me to start up with Die Meistersinger on 3 August, another luxuriant course of 10 classes. More of that shortly.