The Queen of Spades

Teatro Regio, Thursday 21 May 2009 - Sunday 31 May 2009


Maksim Aksënov (German) and, lying, Anja Silja (The Countess)

«It seems to me now that the history of the world is divided into two periods: the first consists of everything that happened from the creation to the composition of the Queen of Spades. The second begins one month later». So wrote Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to his brother Modest (the author of the libretto) on 8 April 1890 about the opera taken from Pushkin’s story of the same name that he composed in 44 days in Florence, at the Hotel Washington in Lungarno Vespucci. The story about an obsession, that demon of gambling that Hermann wants to dominate by discovering the lucky sequence of three cards, “Troika, semerka, tuz” (“three, seven, ace”) that only the Countess knows, has in Tchaikovsky’s version a doubly tragic finale: Lisa commits suicide by throwing herself into the Neva and Hermann stabs himself, while in Pushkin’s story she marries a wealthy young man and Hermann ends up in a mental hospital where he repeats obsessively the formula of the “tri karti”. Again Tchaikovsky: «all my friends are enthusiastic about the Queen of Spades. It seems to me that the opera is, in fact, a success, but it should be said that the libretto is wonderful in the true sense of the word. I must confess that I like the opera more than all the others I’ve composed and that many of the passages are difficult for me to play because of my overflowing emotion. It takes my breath away and I want to cry! My God, could I be wrong? We’ll see». An homage to the world of  Russia long ago (the period is that of Catherine the Great), the Queen of Spades was premièred with great success on 19 December 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg under the direction of Edvard Napravnik.

Main data

Composer: Pëtr Il’ič Čajkovskij
Librettist: Modest Čajkovskij from Aleksandr Puškin
Year of the first performance: 1890 Mariinskij Theatre, St. Petersburg

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