The Queen of Spades

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Queen of Spades

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Overview

Tchaikovsky’s macabre thriller, set against the backdrop of Tsarist Russia, is back in the Met’s atmospheric staging. Soprano Sonya Yoncheva makes her highly anticipated role debut as Lisa, the young woman who embarks on a deadly love affair with the gambling-obsessed officer Hermann, sung by tenor Brian Jagde, also in his role debut. Baritone Igor Golovatenko reprises his moving portrayal of Lisa’s fiancé, Prince Yeletsky, alongside mezzo-soprano Violeta Urmana as the spectral Countess and baritone Alexey Markov as Count Tomsky. Keri-Lynn Wilson conducts the sweeping score.

Production a gift of the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund, established by the founders of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 

Revival a gift of Rolex and Barbara Augusta Teichert

Languages

Languages sung in The Queen of Spades

Sung In

Russian

Titles

Title languages displayed for The Queen of Spades

Met Titles In

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish

Timeline

Timeline for the show, The Queen of Spades

Estimated Run Time

3 hrs 35 mins

  • House Opens

  • Act I

    70 mins

  • Intermission

    30 mins

  • Acts II and III

    115 mins

  • Opera Ends

The Queen of Spades

World Premiere: Mariinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, 1890. A work of extreme moods and colors, The Queen of Spades explores life’s frivolities as well as the darkest impulses of obsession, addiction, madness, and self-destruction. The gripping plot is set against the vast elegance and macabre allure of St. Petersburg, which functions almost as a character itself. Tchaikovsky’s lyric mastery is equally apparent throughout the whole of this remarkable score, which moves deftly from the most elegant to the most harrowing situations.

Creators

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–93) enjoyed tremendous fame during his lifetime as a composer of symphonic music and ballets. Today, his operas also enjoy growing popularity. The composer’s brother Modest (1850–1916) adapted the libretto for The Queen of Spades, with many passages created by Tchaikovsky himself, from a short story by esteemed Russian writer Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837).

PRODUCTION

Elijah Moshinsky

SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER

Mark Thompson

LIGHTING DESIGNER

Paul Pyant

CHOREOGRAPHER

John Meehan

Headshot of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Composer

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Setting

The Queen of Spades

The story unfolds in the czarist capital of Russia, St. Petersburg, during the later years of the Empress Catherine the Great, who reigned from 1762 to1796. In The Queen of Spades, the beautiful city of rivers and canals is both a mystical place where elements of fantasy can burst forth at any moment and a very real, modern city that provides an opportunity to satirize contemporary society.

Music

Tchaikovsky’s skills as a great symphonist and undisputed master of the ballet are apparent in the many superb orchestral touches throughout this opera’s score. The opera’s great vocal solos, most of them considered concert standards in Russia, are excellent surprises for American audiences, and notable for their diversity. Ensembles punctuate the work at key moments of interaction—most notably in the first scene’s quintet, in which each of the drama’s lead characters expresses fear of another character.

The Queen of Spades