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The queen of spades
P. Tchaikovsky

Opera in 3 acts, 7 scenes

Libretto by M. TCHAIKOVSKY
After story by A. PUSHKIN
Production State Prize Laureate, People Artist of Russia S. GAUDASSINSKY
Stage Design - S. PASTOKH Costumes G. SOLOVIOVA
Chief Chorus Master Honoured Artist of Russia A.TCHERNOV
Choreographer People Artist of Russia N.DOLGUSHIN
Director Honoured Artist of Russia A. BASHLOVKIN
Chorus Master A. DMITRIEV
Repetitor Honoured Artist of Russia E. PAVLOVA

Act I

Scene 1

The Summer Gardens. It's early spring in St. Petersburg. Garden avenues are filled with people. Everybody is happy about the long-awaited sunny day.

Hermann alone is sad. He is hopelessly in love: she is a young noble lady who can not marry a poor officer. Prince Eletsky announces his engagement with the Old Countess' granddaughter Lisa and introduces his friends to her.

Hermann is in despair: Lisa is count's fiancee! Meanwhile Tomsky tells his friends a fantastic story about the Old Countess who possesses the secret of three cards which prove to be winning.

Hermann's companions jokingly offer him to know the secret. Thunder storm begins...

Shocked by Lisa's forthcoming wedding, Hermann swears either to achieve Lisa's favour or die.

Scene 2

Lisa's room. Lisa and her friends celebrate her engagement. When Lisa, at last is left alone, she cannot but think about a mysterious stranger.

Suddenly Hermann comes in. Trepidating, Lisa listens to his declaration of love. The Old Countess' unexpected arrival interrupts their rendezvous, reviving Tomsky's story in Hermann's memory. Now his desire to die gives way to love of life, to hope of learning the mystery of three cards, to gain happiness.

Act II

Scene 3

A magnificent ball is held at an old nobleman's home. Hermann's friends keep mocking at him: three cards  the Old Countess' secret  might bring him a fortune. The thought of getting a fortune and his beloved becomes his idee fix. When the pastorale is over and the guests leave the drawing-room Lisa sets a rendezvous with Hermann and gives him the key to the Old Countess' bedroom through which he can get into Lisa's room. It seems to Hermann that his fortune favours him: today he will take possession of the secret.

Scene 4

Countess' bedroom. As if enchanted, Hermann peers at the portrait of the Countess in her young years, but on hearing the steps hides himself away. The Countess and her maids come in. She gives a sad glance at the portrait falling into reveries of the past. The dozing old lady is awoken by Hermann, who pleads her to reveal him the secret of three cards.

As she keeps silence, Hermann threatens her with the pistol. Scared the old dame falls in a dead faint. Shocked by the dead failure of his expectations, Hermann is on the edge of insanity.


Scene 5

Barracks. Night. Rereading Lisa's note with a request for a rendezvous, Hermann again recalls his sad experience. His fevered imagination brings about scenes of the Old Countess' death and funeral. Her ghost appears to him and names the three cards: "Three, seven, ace!"

Scene 6

Embankment. Lisa waits for Hermann. Clock on a tower strikes midnight. At last Hermann appears. Lisa listens to him in horror. She tries to appeal to his reason  but nothing comes of it.

Possessed by the idea of quick winning, Hermann pushes Lisa aside and with a cry: "To the gambling house!" runs away. Driven to despair Lisa decides to commit suicide.

Scene 7

Gambling house. The game is underway. Suddenly Hermann appears and, to the amazement of those present, joins the gamblers. He stakes one by one two cards named by the Old Countess and wins.

Intoxicated with success Hermann places all the money he won on the third card. But instead of the ace he expected there is a Queen of Spades in his hand. In the state of frenzy Hermann stares at the card. It seems to him that the Old Countess looks at him from the card. In the fit of madness Hermann commits suicide. At the very last moment the image of his beloved appears in his mind. Hermann dies with Lisa's name on his lips.

(c) 2000