Based on the poem by Pushkin, this is perhaps Tchaikovsky's finest opera. Begun in 1877 at the same time as the 4th Symphony, Puskin's tale of unrequited love was to have a dramatic effect on the composer's personal life.

Tchaikovsky had been receiving love letters from Antonina Milyukova, a woman he had never met, threatening suicide if the two could not meet. Tchaikovsky initially rejected her but with Onegin's heartless spurning of Tatyana now uppermost in his mind, he foolishly proposed marriage. The resulting debacle didn't last long and, following a nervous breakdown, Tchaikovsky was ordered by a doctor never to see his wife again.

The following year, having begun to recover, Tchaikovsky completed Eugene Onegin. Although the subject is not suited to opera, Tchaikovsky captured the emotional intensity of Pushkin's poem and, in Act One's Letter Scene, produced one of the great operatic moments. The famous Waltz and Polonaise come from the ballroom scenes and are frequently performed as a pair in the concert hall.

russian text
Kudà, kudà, kudà vi udalilis,
vesni moyei zlatiye dni?
Shto dyen griadushki mnye gotovit?
Yego moi vzor naprasno lovit:
v glubokoi t'me tayitsia on!
Nyet nuzhdi; prav sudbi zakon!
Paddu li ya, streloy pronzyonni,
il mimo proletitona,
vsyo blaga; bdieniya i sna
prikhodit cias opredelyonni!
Blagaslovyen i dyen zabot,
blagaslovyen i tmi prikhod!
Blesnyeot zautra luch dennitsi
i zayigrayet yarki dyen,
a ya, bit mozhet, ya grabnitsi
saidu v tayinstvennuyu syen!
I pamyat yunovo poeta
poglotit myedlanneya Lyeta.
Zabudet mir menya ; no ti!
Ti!... Olga...
Skhazi, pridyosh li, dyeva krasoti,
slezu prolit nad rannei urnoi
i dumat: on menya lyubil!
On mnye yedinoi posvyatil
rassvyet pecialni zhizni burnai,
akh, Olga, ya tebya lyubil!
tebe edinoy posvyatil
rassvyet pecialni zhizni burnai,
akh, Olga, ya tebya lyubil!
Serdyechni drug , zhelanni drug ,
pridì, pridì! Zhelanni drug,
pridì, ya tvoi suprùg , pridì,pridì!
Ya zhdu tebya, zhelanny drug,
pridì, pridì; ya tvoi suprùg!
Kuda,kuda,kuda vi udalitis ,
zlatye dni, zlatye dni moyey vesni?

English Text
Where have you gone,
O golden days of my spring?
What does the coming day
have in store for me?
It escapes my eyes, it is hidden!
No matter; fate's law is just
Shall I fall to the deadly arrow,
or will it pass by?
All for better, there is a pre-determined time
For life and for sleep
Blessed is a day of simple tasks
And blessed is the day of troubles.
Will the day beam shine in the morning
And the bright day shall reign
And I, well, will I, perhaps, will descent
Into mysterious darkness of my fatal tomb?
And the memory of a strange poet
will fall into Abyss
The world shall forget me, but you,
you, Olga!
Tell me, will you, the maiden of beauty,
come to shed a tear over the early urn
And think "he loved me,
he devoted to me
The gloomy dawn of a troubled life!"
Ah Olga, I did love you,
To you alone I devoted
The gloomy dawn of my troubled life
Yes Olga, I did love you!
My wonderful friend,
my dear friend,
Come come I am your spouse
I wait for you, desired friend
come I am your husband,
Where have you gone,
o golden days of my spring?

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