|Operas by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
The Queen of Spades (Russian: Пиковая дама, Pikovaya dama) is an opera, Opus 68, in 3 acts, 7 scenes, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to a Russian libretto by the composer's brother Modest Tchaikovsky, based on a short story of the same name by the poet Alexander Pushkin. Voyevoda ( Воевода, The Voyevoda) is an Opera, Opus 3 in 3 acts 4 scenes by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893 Undina (sometimes Undine or Ondine) ( Ундина) is an Opera in 3 acts by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The Oprichnik or The Guardsman ( Опричник, Oprichnik is an Opera in 4 acts 5 scenes by Pyotr Tchaikovsky ( Vakula the Smith ( Кузнец Вакула, Kuznets Vakula Smith Vakula is an opera Opus 14 in 3 acts 8 scenes by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Eugene Onegin ( Евгений Онегин, Yevgény Onégin is an Opera ("lyrical scenes" Opus 24 in 3 acts 7 scenes The Maid of Orleans ( Орлеанская дева, Orleanskaja deva) is an Opera in 4 acts 6 scenes by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Mazeppa, properly Mazepa (Мазепа is an Opera in 3 acts 6 scenes by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Cherevichki ( Черевички, Cherevichki, The Slippers) renderings are ''The Little Shoes'' and ''Les caprices d'Oxane'' is a comic-fantastic The Enchantress (or The Sorceress, Чародейка, Charodéyka) is an Opera in four acts by Pyotr Tchaikovsky Iolanta (sometimes Iolanthe) ( Иоланта) is a lyric Opera, Opus 69 in one act by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Russian ( transliteration:,) is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages Opus, from the Latin word opus meaning "work" is usually used in the sense of "a Work of art " A libretto is the text used in an extended Musical work such as an Opera, Operetta, Masque, sacred or secular Oratorio and Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( Russian: Модест Ильич Чайковский, May 13 May 1 1850 Alapaevsk – January 15 January The Queen of Spades (Пиковая дама Pikovaya dama is an acclaimed Short story by Alexander Pushkin about human avariciousness The premiere performance took place in 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Year 1890 ( MDCCCXC) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Saint Petersburg ( tr: Sankt-Peterburg,) is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River Russia (Россия Rossiya) or the Russian Federation ( Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a transcontinental Country extending
For a period the opera was commonly performed in French under the still recognized title Pique Dame. Nowadays, the opera is almost exclusively sung in Russian. There are several recordings of it, and it is frequently performed.
The management of the Imperial Theatre offered a commission to Tchaikovsky to write an opera to a plot by Ivan Vsevolozhsky in 1887/88. Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky (Иван Александрович Всеволожский 1835&ndash1909 was the Director of the Imperial Theatres in Russia Originally Tchaikovsky refused, but later in 1889, he accepted. Toward the end of that year, he met with theatre managers to discuss the script, the lay-out of the scenes, and the elements of performance.
He sketched out the opera from January to March in Florence in only 44 days. Florence ( Italian: Firenze Florentia and Fiorenza) is the Capital City of the Italian region of Tuscany From July to December of 1890, Tchaikovsky completed a set of changes to the literary text, recitatives, and voice parts. Working with the tenor Figner, he created two versions of Hermann’s aria from the seventh scene, including different tonalities. All of these changes are found in the proof sheets and inserts for the first and second editions.
While composing the music, Tchaikovsky actively edited the libretto. He substantially changed the text, entered scenic notes, made reductions, and wrote his own lyrics for arias for Yeletsky, Lisa, and the chorus.
In the opera, the main hero Hermann is on stage and sings in all seven scenes. This demands a singer of great skill and endurance. The part was written for the notable Russian tenor Nikolay Figner, who performed the role in the premiere.
The composer himself took part in the preparation of the Saint Petersburg premiere. Critics gave rave reviews. "Figner's bright temperament has given to each phrase in the powerful moments the needed relief. In the lyrical parts. . . Figner’s singing was awe-inspiring with a charming softness and sincerity. " Tchaikovsky later wrote, "Figner and the Saint Petersburg orchestra. . . have made true miracles. "
The success of The Queen of Spades, as its author had well expected, was tremendous. It continued that success twelve days later at the Kiev premiere. Kiev, also known as Kyiv ( Ukrainian:, Kyiv, ˈkɪjiw Russian:, Kiyev; see also Cities' alternative names) is the The Bolshoy Theatre premiere took place the following year. The Bolshoi Theatre (Большой театр Bol'shoy Teatr Great Theatre) is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by famed architect Tchaikovsky was extremely pleased with the opera. In an eloquent self-estimation, he said, ". . . either I am terribly mistaken, or The Queen of Spades really is a masterpiece. . . . " This appraisal truly was prophetic.
St. Petersburg Premiere (World Premiere)
Other Notable Performances
|Role||Voice type||St. Events 324 - Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor. Events 43 BC - Marcus Tullius Cicero assassinated 1696 - Connecticut Route 108, one of the oldest highways Year 1890 ( MDCCCXC) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The Mariinsky Theatre ( Мариинский театр, also spelled Maryinsky Theatre is a historic theatre of Opera and Ballet in Saint Petersburg ( tr: Sankt-Peterburg,) is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River Eduard Frantsovitch Nápravník ( Russian: Эдуард Францович Направник August 24 1839, Býšť, Bohemia - See also Marius Ivanovich Petipa (Мариус Иванович Петипа (born Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa on 11 March 1818 in Marseille, Kingdom Events 406 – Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gallia. Events 324 - Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor. Year 1890 ( MDCCCXC) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Events 1333 - Flood of the Arno River, causing massive damage in Florence as recorded by the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani Year 1891 ( MDCCCXCI) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The Bolshoi Theatre (Большой театр Bol'shoy Teatr Great Theatre) is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by famed architect Ippolit Karlovich Al'tani (also Altani) ( 27 May 15 May 1846 South of Ukraine – 17 February 1919, Moscow – was a Russian See also Marius Ivanovich Petipa (Мариус Иванович Петипа (born Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa on 11 March 1818 in Marseille, Kingdom See also Lev Ivanovich Ivanov (1834 &ndash 1901 was a Russian Ballet Dancer and Choreographer and later Second Balletmaster Year 1902 ( MCMII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year starting Vienna ( in Wien; see also other names) is the Capital of Austria, and is also one of the nine States of Austria. The Vienna State Opera ( Wiener Staatsoper) located in Vienna, Austria, is one of the most important Opera houses - and opera companies - in Year 1904 ( MCMIV) was a Leap year starting on Friday (link will display calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Leap year starting on Moscow (Москва́ romanised: Moskvá, IPA: see also other names) is the Capital and the largest city of The Bolshoi Theatre (Большой театр Bol'shoy Teatr Great Theatre) is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by famed architect WikipediaWikiProject Composers#Lead section --> Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Сергей Васильевич Рахманинов Petersburg premiere,|
19 December (O.S. 7 December) 1890
31 December (O.S. 19 December), 1890
(Conductor: Iosif Pribik)
|Bolshoy Theatre, Moscow premiere,|
4 November 1891
(Conductor: Ippolit Altani)
|Hermann||tenor||Nikolay Figner||Mikhayil Medvedev||Mikhayil Medvedev|
|Count Tomsky||baritone||Ivan Melnikov||Dementyev||Bogomir Korsov|
|Prince Yeletsky||baritone||Yakovlev||Tartakov||Pavel Khokhlov|
|Master of Ceremonies||tenor||Yefimov|
|Countess||mezzo-soprano||Mariya Slavina||Mariya Smirnova||Aleksandra Krutikova|
|Liza||soprano||Medeya Mey-Figner||Aleksandra Matsulevich||Mariya Deysha-Sionitskaya|
|Governess||mezzo-soprano||Maria-Wilhelmina Pilz (Pilts)|
|Chorus, silent roles: Nursemaids, governesses, wet-nurses, strollers, children, gamblers|
|Prilepa, or Chlöe||soprano|
|Milovzor, or Daphnis||contralto|
|Zlatogor, or Plutus||baritone|
|Chorus, silent roles: Cupid, Hymen, shepherds and shepherdesses|
Note: The contralto roles of Milovzor and Polina may be taken by the same singer, as may the baritone roles of Zlatogor ("golden mountain") and Tomsky. Events 43 BC - Marcus Tullius Cicero assassinated 1696 - Connecticut Route 108, one of the oldest highways Eduard Frantsovitch Nápravník ( Russian: Эдуард Францович Направник August 24 1839, Býšť, Bohemia - Events 324 - Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor. Ippolit Karlovich Al'tani (also Altani) ( 27 May 15 May 1846 South of Ukraine – 17 February 1919, Moscow – was a Russian For the Russian politician see Ivan Melnikov (politician. Ivan A Bogomir Bogomirovich Korsov, (also known as Gothfrid Gothfridovich Korsov, real name Gothfrid Gering) (1845 St Petersburg – 1920 Tbilisi Daphnis and Chloe (Δαφνιν και Χλοην Daphnin kai Chloēn) is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek Novelist In Greek mythology, Daphnis (from Gk daphne "laurel" or "bay-tree" was a son of Hermes and a Sicilian Nymph In Greek mythology, Ploutos ("wealth" Πλοῦτος usually Romanized as Plutus, was equally a son of the pre-Hellenic Cretan Demeter In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin cupido) is the god of Erotic Love and Beauty. In Greek mythology, Hymenaios (also Hymenaeus, Hymenaues, or Hymen; Ancient Greek:) was a god of Marriage ceremonies The role of Prilepa, however, is not paired with another role.
Time: The close of the 18th century
In a sunny, summer garden, people are strolling. The 18th century lasted from 1701 to 1800 in the Gregorian calendar, in accordance with the Anno Domini / Common Era numbering system Saint Petersburg ( tr: Sankt-Peterburg,) is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River Russia (Россия Rossiya) or the Russian Federation ( Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a transcontinental Country extending Officers Surin and Chekalinsky share impressions about the strange behaviour of their friend Hermann. He spends time in the gambling house, but does not tempt fate at all. Hermann enters with Colonel Tomsky. Hermann opens his soul to him, explaining that he is passionately in love, but he does not know his loved one's name. They are joined by several officers. Prince Yeletsky tells of his upcoming marriage. "This beautiful angel has given consent to combine her destiny with mine!" Hermann is horrified to learn that the prince's fiancée is the object of his passion.
The countess and her granddaughter enter. Both women are hypnotised by the sight of the unfortunate Hermann. Tomsky tells the story of the countess who, as a young Moscow "lioness" had lost all her fortune playing the card game Faro. Faro is a card game, a descendant of Basset. It enjoyed great popularity during the 18th century particularly in England and France, and in By bribing Count Saint-Germain with sexual favors, she learned the secret of three winning cards, and won back her fortune. The Count of St Germain ( fl 1710–1784 has been variously described as a Courtier, Adventurer, Charlatan, Inventor, She told her husband the secret, and later a handsome young man. That night, a phantom came to her and said that she would receive a mortal blow from the third one she told.
Hermann listens to the story with great interest. Surin and Chekalinsky mockingly suggest that he find out the old woman’s secret at cards. A thunderstorm rumbles. The garden empties. Only Hermann meets the raging elements openly. He exclaims that while he is alive, he will never let the prince have his beloved.
At sunset in Lisa's room, the girls play music, trying to amuse their friend, who is sad despite her engagement to the prince. When alone, she reveals that she loves the mysterious stranger, in whose eyes she saw the fire of scorching passion. Suddenly, Hermann appears on the balcony. He has come to see her one last time before killing himself. His ardour carries away Lisa. A knock at the door interrupts him. Hiding, Hermann is excited by the appearance of the old countess, who looks like a terrible phantom of death. Unable to hide her feelings anymore, Lisa submits to Hermann.
A rich dignitary is hosting a ball. Yeletsky, disturbed by the coldness of Lisa, assures her of the immensity of his love. Chekalinsky and Surin, wearing masks, scoff at Hermann, asking him whether he will be the third to learn the secret of the three cards. Their words spark his imagination.
After the completion of the intermezzo, Hermann sees the Countess. Pastoral, as an adjective refers to the lifestyle of Shepherds and Pastoralists moving livestock around larger areas of land according to seasons and availability In Music, an intermezzo (pl intermezzi in the most general sense is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities such as acts of a play or movements When Lisa gives him the keys to her bedroom which connects to the countess's, Hermann thinks it is an omen. Tonight he will learn the secret of the three cards, and with it, win Lisa’s hand.
Hermann hides in the bedroom of the countess. She enters. She is unhappy with the customs of the day, and with melancholy recalls the past. She falls asleep in an armchair. Hermann reveals himself, begging her to reveal the secret of the three cards, but the countess, who has grown dumb with fright, says nothing. When Hermann threatens her with a pistol, she dies of shock. Blaming Hermann for the death, Lisa sends him away. In this scene, the ancient French song "Vive Henri IV" as well as the beginning of Loretta’s aria from Grétry's Richard III is heard.
Hermann is in a barracks. He reads Lisa’s letter, forgiving him, and asking him to meet her on the quay. In his imagination, he sees pictures of the old woman's funeral. Doleful singing is heard. The phantom of Countess appears in a white funeral shroud. "Rescue Lisa, marry her, and the three cards will win in succession. Remember! The three! The seven! The ace!"
Lisa awaits Hermann, full of doubt. At midnight, she is finally relieved when Hermann appears. But Hermann, after confessing his love, is possessed with the idea of using the secret of the three cards. When she refuses to go with him to the gambling house, he pushes her away and leaves. Lisa, realizing that the inevitable has happened, throws herself into the river.
The players are gambling in the casino. Tomsky entertains them with a playful song. Hermann enters and wins two large stakes, betting on the three and the seven. Prince Yeletsky, looking for revenge, is the only one who will cover the third bet. Instead of the expected ace, Hermann is dealt the queen of spades. He sees the features of the old dead woman on the card, whose smile seems to be mocking at him, and kills himself. With his dying breath he asks for the Prince's pardon and sees Lisa's ghost, who forgives him.
The subject of the opera, very generally, is the destructive and isolating nature of gambling addiction. Hermann is an army officer who manipulates the naive Lisa, the granddaughter of a countess known as the Queen of Spades. The countess knows the "secret of the three cards" and has revealed it to two men, but if she reveals it to a third, she will die. Hermann becomes obsessed with learning the secret, and it costs him his possessions, Lisa, and ultimately his own life.
Pushkin's original story was modified to make the drama suitable for opera. In the opera, Hermann's love affair with Lisa is more genuine and less a charade than in Pushkin's novella; where Pushkin sends Hermann to an asylum and Lisa to marry another man, the opera melodramatically ends in a double suicide. The opera sharpens the social inequalities dividing the main characters by making Lisa the granddaughter of the countess and Hermann's social superior (in the novella, Lisa was the countess' ward). By interpreting the story in his own way, Tchaikovsky simultaneously integrates it.
"Life is but a game" (Russian: «Что наша жизнь? Игра!», literally, "What is our life? A game!") a quote from Act 3 of the opera, became a proverb in Russian. Russian ( transliteration:,) is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages What? Where? When?, a trivia game and one of the most popular TV-shows in Russia and former Soviet countries, starts with a musical quotation from the opera, Hermann singing the phrase "Life is but a game. What? Where? When? ( Russian "Что? Где? Когда?" is an intellectual Game show which is well known in Russian-language media "