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The Queen of Spades
Teatro Regio, Thursday 21 May 2009 - Sunday 31 May 2009
In St Petersburg
While children are playing in a garden in the warm spring sunshine, the two officials, Chekalinsky and Surin, express their concern about the behaviour of Hermann, a friend of theirs who spends his nights watching others at the gambling table. Hermann arrives with Count Tomsky and confesses that he is sad because he is in love with a girl whose name he doesn’t even know! Prince Yeletsky also appears: he has just become engaged and everyone congratulates him, but who is his fiancée? “There she is”, says the Prince, seeing Lisa arrive with her old grandmother, the Countess. With great anguish Hermann discovers that the girl he is madly in love with is the same Lisa, engaged to the Prince. When Lisa and her grandmother go away, Tomsky tells them that the Countess was once known in Paris as the “Venus of Moscow” and that the Count of Saint-Germain, in exchange for a night of passion, disclosed to her the secret of the three cards: a sequence that would permit her to win at the gambling table. The countess won and then revealed the sequence only to her husband and a lover, but one night a ghost appeared to her and warned that she would be killed by the third man to whom she revealed the secret. Hermann is troubled by the story.
Hermann goes to Lisa and declares his love to her. In the girl’s room, the Countess enters and Hermann hides on the balcony; when they are left alone, they embrace.
During a masked ball, Chekalinsky and Surin tease Hermann because they believe he wants to discover the secret of the three cards. While Prince Yeletsky declares his love to Lisa, she is disturbed, and gives Hermann a key so that he can slip into her apartments during the night.
Hermann has concealed himself in the room of the Countess, who, returning from the ball, falls asleep, but Hermann wakes her; threatening her with a pistol, he begs her to tell him the secret of the three cards, and she dies of shock. Lisa enters and orders Hermann to leave, accusing him: his declarations of love were lies, as he only wanted to know the Countess’s secret!
The ghost of the Countess appears to Hermann and reveals the sequence "three, seven, ace".
On the banks of the Neva, Hermann, in a fit of delirium, wants to convince Lisa to follow him to the gambling-house. She tries in vain to bring him to his senses and proposes that they run away together. Hermann, by now beside himself with madness, pushes her away and flees. Lisa is distraught, and commits suicide by throwing herself into the river.
In the gambling-house, Hermann wins by playing the Countess’s cards, but when he plays against Prince Yeletsky he has in his hand the queen of spades and loses. He thinks he sees the ghost of the Countess, and, by now out of his mind, stabs himself, asking Lisa to forgive him.