Thursday, October 15, 2009
Rack off, Eugene
We went to see the Tchasikovsky opera Eugene Onegin last night. It was great, with a very talented cast, minimalist yet beautiful staging, and a good orchestra backing it all.
The plot of the opera was typically tragic, and had some contemporary parallels that came to mind, so here is my potted summary of the opera, updated and set in the Hutt Valley rather than 19C Russia.
Tanya spends all her time reading woman's magazines and trashy romances. She dreams of romance in a Mills & Boon kind of way. Her mother tells her to stop being so stupid. Romance is for the rich. She tells Tanya she should be more like her sister Olga, who has found a good, solid bloke.
Olga's current boyfriend, Lensky (a prop in their school's 1st XV rugby team), has his own car and enough cash to keep Olga happy. Lensky arrives with his mate, Eugene Onegin. Onegin, so-called for his habit of always saying, 'I'll just have one gin" before getting completely hammered, is a star winger on the rugby team.
Lensky and Onegin eye up the sisters, with Eugene saying he likes 'em a bit wet and romantic as they are easier to manipulate. So Lensky makes out with Olga in the back seat of his Escort while Onegin and Tanya wander about the school's rugby field talking about everything and nothing, and why it's important to lace up your boots tight before a match. The date ends with Eugene leaning in for a kiss and coping a quick feel.
The next evening Tanya is constantly checking her cellphone for any message from Eugene, but nothing comes. "But he said he'd call," she laments. She splits a tub of Tip Top and a bottle of Baileys with her aunt, who tells her not to worry so much. At 2am Tanya sends Eugene a long text in which she declares her undying love, and asks him to meet her after school behind the bike sheds.
To her surprise, Eugene turns up only an hour, and half a pack of menthols, after school finishes. She throws herself upon him, but he pushes her away and gives her the old, "It's not you, it's me" speech. He even throws in the whole "you're like a sister to me" line. Tanya is not impressed and cries so hard she ruins the other half pack of cigarettes.
At Tanya's sixteenth birthday party, Onegin has one gin too many and takes his boredom out on his best friend Lensky ... by flirting with Olga. Olga plays up to Eugene, as she is feeling a little taken for granted by Lensky. Besides, Lensky has a gimpy knee and has been on the reserves bench for the last few games, whereas Eugene is the top try scorer.
A bad DJ pumps out some loud dance beats. Olga and Eugene trip the light fantastic on the dance floor, turning heads.
Lensky gets jealous, and challenges Onegin to a fight.
The next day the fight gets out of control when Lensky pulls a knife. Eugene kicks him in the bad knee, however, and in the ensuing melee Lensky ends up dead. Eugene hightails it out of town.
Years later Onegin is in back in Wellington attending a Sports Award event he scammed a ticket to. We learn he has spent the last few years in Australia, lying low. However, there were no charges ever made against him. As he mills around the crowd of sports celebs he is surprised to see Tanya there. She's all glammed up, and is being fawned on by the paparazzi. He sees another familiar face, Gremin, who is the guy that played centre on the 1st XV, and was responsible for setting up all those tries Eugene scored back in the day.
Onegin asks Gremin who the babe is, and is told that's Tanya, Gremin's wife. Gremin it seems, was the real star in the rugby team, and has now been selected for the ABs after a stellar season for the Hurricanes.
Eugene manages to get Tanya to meet him in a back room, and he tells her that he's now in love with her. She admits to still finding him attractive, but she's with Gremin now. Eugene implores her to be his, and gets a little grabby. Tanya knees him in the bollocks, tells him to "rack off", and leaves him crying on the floor.
(This is the bit where you applaud.)