When the phrase popped into my head (spoken), I was thinking of Tchaikovsky. But immediately I heard Ronnie Hawkins’ song in my head.
When I heard this near the start of The Last Waltz, and come to think of it, closer to the beginning of my life, I didn’t properly respect Hawkins, nor did I understand his wisdom. For instance, the way he says “big time” at the beginning of the song? His eyes are open.
But I digress.
The phrase came up thinking of Tchaikovsky and Eugene Onegin. The main character is hard to like. In the Byronic original by Pushkin, he’s warmer than what Tchaikovky gives us.
I was thinking: the composer wrote the opera but dislikes or even hates the hero. Maybe that’s simplistic thinking? but I wondered.
He writes amazing music for the two people left in his wake
- Tatiana (although she does get the grim satisfaction of seeing him pursue her later. She is enough of a mensch that while she’s still in love with Onegin, she’s devoted to her husband)
- Lenski (the poet Onegin kills in the duel)
I can’t help seeing Lenski as a kind of stand-in for Tchaikovsky himself, considering the music he wrote for the poet’s last scene, reflecting on the meaning of life, and fully expecting to die in the duel.
I was thinking about it again because of an upcoming adventure from Tongue in Cheek Productions at the Lula Lounge, where they’re offering something called “Verbotenlieder“.
Forbidden songs? I think it’s because we’ll hear women singing the music men usually sing.
One of them will be a woman singing Lenski’s sad meditation on life.
I saw this picture plus text on Facebook earlier today.
Meet the Women of Verbotenlieder:
“For years now I’ve been a coach
And helped the tenors shine.
But there’s a piece that speaks my name,
I want it to be mine.
Onegin: I have done it all,
I’ve subbed for baritone;
I sang the mezzos’ parts so low,
It sounded like trombone.
But Lensky… seems not meant to be,
It just keeps falling through!
In Soviet Russia, as they say,
Tchaikovskiy will sing you.”
Catch Natalya perform “Kuda, kuda” from Eugene Onegin on Wednesday, Dec 19 at Lula Lounge!
Yes she is a coach: of Russian. If I wanted to sing “Kuda kuda”, I’d have a much bigger problem with the text than the music, and wouldn’t know anyone better to approach for help than Natalya: whom you may recall from OksanaG Tapestry’s opera about human trafficking not so long ago, for which she was nominated for a Dora.
I totally get that frustration, wishing I could sing something I’m not supposed to sing.