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Mariusz Kwiecien and Piotr Beczala have markedly different styles.
After decades in the public eye, the male leads in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” which opens Monday night in New York, are both comfortable in formalwear. But while Beczala, who reprises his role as Lenski in the romantic tragedy, quipped that he was “born in a tuxedo,” Kwiecien, who plays Onegin here for the first time, would much rather be in jeans and a T-shirt.
The singers hit the personal shopping department at Macy’s Herald Square earlier this week to try on tuxedos and dress furnishings to wear to Monday’s opening-night gala and then for other events during the run of the show.
“If it’s before 5:00, I’ll wear a black suit, but after 5:00, I need a frock,” said the Polish-born Beczala. “The dress code is very exact.”
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Poland, Beczala first sang Lenski at the Met’s 2008-09 season, and has also performed the role with the San Francisco and Zurich Opera companies. Last season, he sang the Duke in the Met’s “Rigoletto.” For “Rigoletto,” he had a custom-made white dinner jacket that he wore on stage, “but I forgot to buy it” when the production ended, he said, shaking his head. Hence his visit to Macy’s to beef up his wardrobe for this year.
Kwiecien, who has sung Onegin at the Bolshoi in Moscow, the Paris Opera, the Royal Opera in London’s Covent Garden and elsewhere, said he has a love-hate relationship with shopping. “I love it for the first hour and then I get tired. I’m usually very quick — if it fits, I’ll take it, if not, I just leave the store.”
At Macy’s, he stuck around for a while to try on some tuxedos and formal shoes, but said he prefers to dress down. “I usually just wear jeans and shirts,” he said. “And I hate winter and having to wear heavy stuff like hats and scarves. But I’m a singer, so a scarf is my best friend.”
He said that although this will be his first chance to sing Onegin in New York — he’s also being featured in advertisements on buses around the city — he’s not nervous. “If I have good form and am in good voice, then I’m excited. And after the first few phrases, I get over any nervousness,” he said.
There will be eight performances of the opera through Oct. 19 with the Oct. 5 matinee transmitted live to more than 1,900 movie theaters around the world as part of “The Met: Live in HD” series.
The opening-night performance will be shown live on big screens at Times Square and Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza. Attendance is free.