Eugene Onegin: A Scenic Projection
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1936)
Translated by James E. Falen with the cooperation of Caryl Emerson
This translation of Krzhizhanovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which appears here courtesy of James E. Falen, has an instructive and at times excruciating prehistory.
The Russian archival typescript had been known to theater directors since the 1990s, but its circulation was limited. Krzhizhanovsky’s work for the stage survived in roughly a dozen items. The editor of his collected works (2002–11), Vadim Perel´muter, included in volume 5 (on theater) only two original plays and one pantomime: there was no room for adaptations. So the play appeared first in English, as part of a Prokofiev volume published in 2008 (Simon Morrison, ed., Sergey Prokofiev and His World), in my “free verse” version with the composer’s markings. It was a good-faith attempt to communicate the play to an American ear and to accommodate—or so I thought at the time—the comfort zone of American actors.