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 the second scene, Liza sits pensively in her room with her friends. They engage in song and dance, but Liza remains distanced from their merriment. Liza’s governess forces the visitors to depart, leaving Liza alone in her room to ruminate. Shaken by the look of the young man she encountered earlier that day in the park, she bemoans her engagement. To her great surprise, Herman appears on her balcony. Herman tells her he is about to take his life because of her engagement to another man and asks only that she not reject him in the final moments of his life. Distraught, Liza implores Herman to leave. Instead, he kneels before her and begs her for her forgiveness. He asks her to have pity on him, and his heart that is weary with his unrequited love for her. At the end of his aria, he takes her hand and triumphantly proclaims her his queen and angel. Joseph DuBose
We at classicalconnect.com believe that classical music is a necessity of life. It is our pleasure to be your virtual concert hall and bring you this performance.
Copyright 2008-2010 Classical Connect, LLC