Vladivostok, Primorsky Stage, Great Hall

The Queen of Spades

Opera by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Performed in Russian
(the performance will have synchronised Russian and English supertitles)
Pushkin – 225



Pavel Smelkov

Herman: Oleg Dolgov
Count Tomsky: Marat Mukhametzyanov
Prince Yeletsky: Dmitry Migulyov
The Countess: Laura Bustamante
Liza: Alena Diyanova
Polina: Natalia Yakimova
Chekalinsky: Alexei Kostyuk
Surin: Vladislav Chibirev
Chaplitsky: Ilya Astafurov
Narumov: Sergei Pleshivtsev
Masha: Anastasia Gensler
Governess: Svetlana Rozhok
Master of Ceremonies: Vsevolod Marilov
Prilepa: Alina Mikhailik


Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky, after the novel by Alexander Pushkin

Stage Director: Yuri Temirkanov
Set Designer: Igor Ivanov
Ballet Master: Oleg Vinogradov
Principal Chorus Master: Larisa Shveikovskaya
Chorus Master: Anna Pipia
Musical Preparation: Marina Repina
Lighting Adaptation for the Primorsky Stage: Alexander Naumov
Assistant Director: Anna Shishkina


Act I
Scene 1
The Summer Garden in springtime. Two officers, Chekalinsky and Surin, are concerned about the fortunes of their friend Herman, who visits gambling halls every evening, despite the fact that he does not play because he is so poor. Herman turns up, accompanied by Count Tomsky, to whom he explains the reason for his strange behaviour: he is in love with a girl to whom he has not yet been introduced, and wants to win a large sum of money in order to marry her (“I do not know her name”). Chekalinsky and Surin congratulate the Prince Yeletsky on his forthcoming marriage. An old Countess is walking in the garden with the very girl whom Herman loves. Upon finding out that she is the Prince´s fiancée, he is deeply shaken. The women are frightened by his appearance (“I´m frightened”). Tomsky tells the story of the old Countess´ past in Paris. Count Saint-Germain showed her three winning cards. The officers laugh at Herman, and advise him to tempt fate while Herman vows to fight for his love.

Scene 2
Liza´s room. She is singing with her friend Polina (“Oh, what an evening”). Left alone, Liza reveals her feelings: the Prince loves her, but she cannot forget the passionate gaze of the stranger in the garden (“Where are these tears from?” “Oh, listen, oh, night”). As if he had heard her calling, Herman appears on the balcony. He threatens to kill himself because Liza is promised to another, and tells her that no-one loves her as passionately as he does (“Forgive me, heavenly creature”). The Countess enters, and Liza hides the love-struck Herman. Like a man possessed, Herman starts to search for the three cards. Having been with Liza, he realises he is happy only when he is with her.

Act II
Scene 3
A masquerade at the home of a high official. Yeletsky assures Liza of his love (“I love thee”). Herman continues to be haunted by thoughts of the three cards. A musical intermezzo-pastorale begins (“My dear little friend”). After it ends, Liza gives Herman a key to a secret door by which he can enter her room.

Scene 4
The Countess´ bedroom. It is night. Above the fireplace there is a portrait of the Countess in her youth dressed up as the Queen of Spades. Herman carefully enters the room. He vows to wrest the secret out of the old woman, even if Hell awaits him. Footsteps are heard, and Herman hides. Servants enter, and then the Countess, who starts getting ready for bed. Having sent the servants away, the Countess falls asleep in her chair. Suddenly, Herman appears before her (“Don´t be frightened! For God´s sake, don´t be frightened!”). On his knees, he begs her to name the three cards. The Countess, having risen from her chair, is silent. Then Herman points his pistol at her. The old woman falls. Herman sees that she is dead.

Scene 5
Herman´s room at the barracks. Liza has written to him to say that she is ready to forgive him, but Herman´s thoughts are elsewhere. He remembers the Countess´ funeral (“All the same thoughts, the same nightmare”). The ghost of the Countess appears before him. Out of love for Liza, she names the three magic cards for him: a Three, a Seven and an Ace.

Scene 6
On the banks of the Winter Canal, Liza waits for Herman (“Ah! I´m worn out, I´m tired”). From his words she understands that he is responsible for the Countess´ death, and that he has gone out of his mind. She wants to take him away with her, but he pushes her aside and runs away (the duet “Oh, yes, the sufferings are over”). Liza throws herself into the river.

Scene 7
A gambling hall. Tomsky is surprised to find Yeletsky, who is looking for Herman in order to exact revenge from him. The newly arrived Herman enters the game. Herman celebrates his victory (“What is our life, but a game!”). His winning streak strikes fear into everyone´s hearts. Yeletsky enters the game. Herman bets all of his winnings on the third card, but instead of an Ace, his hand comes up with the Queen of Spades. A shocked Herman sees the ghost of the Countess. She waits for his death. Herman dies, his last thought of Liza.

About the production

 In the spring of 1890 The Queen of Spades, a mystic short story by Alexander Pushkin, inspired Pyotr Tchaikovsky to compose an opera in which Pushkin’s subject would be treated very originally. The story of a consuming passion for gambling was transformed into a dramatic opera about an unearthly love. Pushkin’s heroine named Liza, an old countess’s impoverished young ward, turned into the countess’ grand-daughter engaged to Prince Yeletsky, and German’s behavior was based on his love for the young woman whose social and wealth statuses precluded him from marrying her. Those were circumstances which allowed Tchaikovsky to compose the operatic music astounding the public with its depth and insight.

When Yuri Temirkanov as a director and conductor was going to stage The Queen of Spades at the Kirov Theatre (presently the Mariinsky Theatre) in 1984, Igor Ivanov as a designer was allotted a task to recreate an old Saint Petersburg atmosphere in details. “It should be luxurious because Tchaikovsky is a great dramatist. He sought to show that German, that no one in a shabby surtout, who got into society and finally went mad because he longed to live the high life,” said Temirkanov.

The features of Saint Petersburg in the Catherine Age were thoroughly reconstructed in Temirkanov’s staging, whether they were statues in the Summer Garden where German first met the countess or a costume ball in a grandee’s house or the Winter Canal in which Liza drowned herself out of despair. All costumes and furnishings in a gambling house, quarters or rooms were in accordance with their prototypes in the past. Even military uniforms were designed in keeping with those of certain regiments which once existed in reality.

The staging turned out a great success. The Queen of Spades staged by Yuri Temirkanov became a classic example of opera direction and was accorded international recognition and long happy life on the stage.

The opera staging was shifted from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok in December 2015. At the premiere the opera was performed by the Mariinsky Theatre lead soloist under the direction of Valery Gergiev. Since then the Far East audience has heard Liza’s and German’s arias sung by legendary singers such as Larisa Diadkova and Vladimir Galuzin and seen young stars such as Elena Stikhina, Yulia Matochkina, Alexei Markov, and Roman Burdenko. Nowadays The Queen of Spades continues to host guest singers and open up opportunities for local soloists under the guidance of Pavel Smelkov, a Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Natalia Rogudeeva

World premiere: 19 December 1890, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Premiere of this production: 25 December 1984, Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Leningrad
Premiere in Vladivostok: 5 December 2015

Running time: 3 hours 50 minutes
The performance has two intervals

Age category 12+

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