Tchaikovsky composed his opera Eugene Onegin based on a libretto of his own, closely following passages of Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse of the same name. The opera received its premiere in Moscow in 1879, and steadily became a staple of the repertoire, not least due to the advocacy of conductors such as Gustav Mahler and Henry Wood.
Kuda, kuda, kuda vi udalilis (‘Where, where, where have you gone’), has become one of the best-known arias from the work. In it, the character Vladimir Lensky senses his own imminent death at the hands of Eugene Onegin. The piece is by turns dramatic and melancholic, and brass instruments are uniquely able to capture the bravura and beauty of the vocal line.