Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades

Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades

Article excerpt

Tchaikovsky [DVD] [BR] [G]

The Queen of Spades

Misha Didyk ten         Herman
Svetlana Aksenova sop   Lisa
Larissa Diadkova mez    Countess
Alexey Markov bar       Count Tomsky
Vladimir Stoyanov bar   Prince Yeletsky
Anna Goryachova mez     Polina
Andrei Popov ten        Chekalinsky
Andrii Goniukov bass    Surin
Mikhail Makarov ten     Chaplitsky
Anatoli Si vko bass     Narumov

New Amsterdam Children's Choir; Chorus of Dutch National Opera; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Mariss Jansons Stage director Stefan Herheim Video director Misjel Vermeiren C Major Entertainment (F) (2) [DVD] 743908; (F) [BR] 744004 (3h V * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080i * DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo * 0 * s) Recorded live, June 9--July 3, 2016 Includes synopsis

Tchaikovsky identified closely with Herman, the anti-hero of his opera The Queen of Spades (Pique Dame), whose gambling addiction leads to the deaths of his mistress, Lisa, and the old Countess, whom he threatens into revealing the secret of 'the three cards'. The opera culminates in the deranged gambler's own suicide. 'Wept terribly when Herman gave up the ghost', the composer wrote in his diary. In his revelatory production for Dutch National Opera, heading to Covent Garden next season, Stefan Herheim takes the theme of Tchaikovsky the outsider as his main focus. Alienated from society on account of his homosexuality, Tchaikovsky's mysterious death--contracting cholera from drinking iced water, possibly with the intention of taking his own life--is also referenced in a staging that places the composer squarely centre stage.

I adored this staging when I saw it in Amsterdam and love it no less on revisiting it via Blu-ray. Superimposing the composer's biography on to arguably his greatest opera works ingeniously. Tchaikovsky himself becomes the central character, here played by Vladimir Stoyanov, who sings the role of Prince Yeletsky, Lisa's intended. Like Tchaikovsky's own marriage to the infatuated Antonina Milyukova, it's a match we know is doomed from the first scene, where we see the composer recovering from a sexual encounter for which he's paid a cackling Herman a fistful of roubles. …

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