Recorded on 12/31/1969, uploaded on 04/09/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Tchaikovsky’s most significant opera after Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades was a great success for the composer in his last years. Based on a short story of the same name written by Alexander Pushkin in 1833, the management of the Imperial Theatres approached Tchaikovsky with the commission for the work and a draft of the plot in 1887/88. Initially, Tchaikovsky rejected the commission, calling the draft uninspiring. However, the following year he accepted. After meeting with the theatre’s management, he completed the opera in just 44 days, making changes to the libretto as he went and in some cases even providing his own lyrics for the arias.
The Queen of Spades takes place in 18th century Russia and tells of the plight of Herman, an officer obsessed with gambling. Herman learns of a secret formula that guarantees a winning hand at the gambling table and becomes fascinated by it. Furthermore, he is driven by his love for a woman above his social status. He becomes determined to learn the secret formula hoping that it will solve his problems and win him the hand of his beloved. Herman eventually learns the formula but not without consequences. When he finally goes to the gambling tables, he follows the formula he learned and wins the first two hands. However, he loses third. His spirits destroyed, Herman takes his life at the end of the opera.
In Herman’s first arioso (“I don’t even know her name”), Herman describes the woman he loves though he knows neither her name nor her station. Over a restless undercurrent supplied by the orchestra, he sings of her beauty and asks what he may compare her. Then, his mood turns more anxious as he wonders whether her heart already belongs to another, torn by the pain of love’s grasp on him and longing to hold his beloved. Joseph DuBose
nice but i don't speak the language it's in.
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