Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky, after the novel by Alexander Pushkin
Alexei Stepanyuk, Production Director:
“The article by Boris Asafiev about The Queen of Spades begins, in my opinion, with that which is most important: “There is a strange Russian city. There one can only dream of light... When spring comes, it may appear, it delights no-one more than the populace of this imperious city. Shy, meek and tender, as it emerges it senses its brief existence... The White Nights that follow spring are also infused with grief. This strange and refracted light tires one, draws one, allures one, and when the sun rises people are in no state to rejoice and be glad in it – they are already exhausted by the process itself of being attracted to light...”
The Queen of Spades is not about cards or gambling. You can’t stage this opera by rejecting Pushkin’s magnificent story. In its plot – wonderful and even detective-like – there is nothing in common with the monumental tragic quality of Tchaikovsky’s music. Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote of himself – of his fate, of his destiny, of his desire to be like others and his right to be different... About fear and passion, rooted in one and the same. All three characters – Hermann, the Countess and Liza – are infected by the same virus, they are drawn by what is fearsome...
This opera is about attitudes to death, about how death can be a release, how it can be beautiful, noble and redemptive... Perhaps the Countess was waiting for Hermann! In the fourth scene she becomes younger before our very eyes... As with Akhmatova, “This beauty is very young, but not from our century, we are not to be together, that one – the third – will never leave us.” That is death itself.
The plot of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is filled with St Petersburg mythology which is hard to embody on the stage. I am delighted to be working with Alexander Orlov and Irina Cherednikova, designers with tremendous intuition. They are creating metaphorical and beautiful sets and luxuriant costumes. The architectural leitmotif of St Petersburg comes with the columns, there are a great many, they depict various configurations, there are black on top of gold... They act as shading, light-absorbing tulle curtains and when the action unfolds behind them everything takes on a spectral character, just like during the white nights...”