The part is one of his specialties. When he last sang it, at the Metropolitan Opera this past winter, the chief music critic for The New York Times wrote that Onegin is "a role he seems born to play."
In a statement released by Lyric Opera yesterday, the Russian baritone's manager, Mark Hildrew of Askonas Holt, said, "Dmitri Hvorostovsky has decided for personal reasons to devote more time to his work in Europe, enabling him to spend more time with his family."
To take the title role for the second half of Onegin's run, Lyric has engaged the fast-rising Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien. As it happens, he opened the current season singing the part in the much-debated new production of the work at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.
Another notable role of Kwiecien's this season has been Mozart's Don Giovanni, which he sang at Houston Grand Opera and Seattle Opera and performs this summer at San Francisco Opera. He appears regularly at the Met, where he has taken the main baritone roles in La Bohme, Pagliacci and CosÐ fan tutte (among others), and he is a graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Program.
Lyric Opera of Chicago's Eugene Onegin — also starring Barbara Frittoli as Tatiana (in her house debut), Frank Lopardo as Lensky, Nino Surguladze as Olga and Vitalij Kowaljow as Prince Gremin (both in their company debuts) — runs for ten performances between March 1 and 30. Lyric Opera music director Andrew Davis conducts the same Robert Carsen production seen at the Met this year. More information is available at www.lyricopera.org.