Eugene Onegin is one of my favorite operas, consists of great music, heart-breaking story based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin and plenty of brilliant arias.

The story concerns a selfish hero (Onegin) who lives to regret his rejection of a young woman's (Tatyana) love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend (Lenski).

In Act III Scene I, Onegin appeared in a nobleman’s mansion in St. Petersburg. The host Prince Gremin entered the ballroom with his wife Tatyana. Onegin asked Prince Gremin to present him to his wife and Prince Gremin sang the famous aria “Lyubvi vsye vorsrasti pokorni” (Love is no respecter of age/Everyone knows love on earth).

To sing this aria, the bass needs to exhibit a noble character of the imperial Russia. The aria is like a public speech (as Prince Gremin is the host of the ball), an advice to Onegin (as he is much older than Onegin), but also like a modest display of power (as Tatyana who used to love Onegin now becomes his wife).

I must start the clip with Mark Reizen, a great Russian Bass who spent his major career in Bolshoi. I was too amazed by his performance, seeing a 90-year-old man singing on stage!

Mark Reizen at his 90 birthday gala performance

Mark Reizen (more likely the recording when he was younger)

Boris Shtokolov (the other great Russian Bass, listen to different style from Mariinsky)

Lyrics translation in English (by Decca 1987)

Love is no respecter of age (Everyone knows love on earth),
Its transports bless alike
Those in the bloom of youth
Yet unacquainted with the world
And the grey-headed warrior
Tempered by experience!

Onegin, I shan’t disguise the fact
That I love Tatyana to distraction!
My life was slipping drearily away;
She appeared and brightened it
Like a ray of sunlight in a stormy sky,
And brought me life and youth, yes, youth and happiness

Among these sly, poor-spirited,
Foolish, pampered children,
These scoundrels both absurd and boring,
Dull, fractious arbiters,
Among the pious coquettes
And sycophantic slaves,
Amid affable, modish hypocrisy
Courteous, affectionate infidelities,
Amid the icy censure
Of cruel-hearted vanity,
Amid the vexing vacuity
Of calculation, thought and conversation,
She shines like a star
In the night’s darkest hour, in a pure, clear sky,
And to me she always appears
In the radiant,
Radiant nimbus of an angel!

Love is no respecter of age
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