Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky after the novel of the same name by Alexander Pushkin
Musical Director and Conductor: Evgeny Volynsky
Stage Director: Alexey Stepanyuk
Stage Designer: Igor Grinevich
Principal Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Choreographer: Galina Kaloshina
Lighting Designer: Damir Ismagilov
Conductor: Pyotr Belyakin
Stage Director’s Assistant: Tatiana Grigorieva
Chorus Master: Sergey Tenitilov
Chorus Master of the children's choir: Margarita Mezentseva
3 hours 40 minutes
performed in Russian
Première of the production: 29 December 2005
Three cards are in Fate’s hands. The game is on for dear life. Hermann betrays love for riches and his fate is inevitable. Production’s formula for success is music by Tchaikovsky filled with drama and vibrant lyrics and embosomed with stage effects of “grand imperial opera”.
The opera is set in St Petersburg in the late 18th century
The Summer gardens in St Petersburg. The first spring day. A merry crowd of people walking. Children are playing. It is here that the poor engineering officer Herman first confessed to his friend Count Tomsky that he is in love with Liza, a granddaughter of the rich Countess; it is here that he heard about the engagement of Liza and Prince Yeletsky. Herman is deeply impressed by the story told by Prince Tomsky about mystery of the Countess: she knows the secret three cards that can win in a row. Thunderstorm begins. Herman stays alone. He swears: “No, Prince, I won’t give her to you... She will be mine, otherwise I’ll die!”
The same night Herman gets into Liza’s room. His love confession is interrupted by the arrival of the Countess. Herman is scared. He is ready to die, if Liza doesn’t return his feelings. “Do live,” — Liza says.
The next day at the ball at the house of a high official. There are many guests invited, including Herman, the old Countess, Liza, Yeletsky, Surin, Chekalinsky, and Tomsky. Liza gives Herman a key to a secret door by which he can enter her room. “Now it’s not me, it’s the fate wants me to do it, and I will know the three cards,” — Herman exclaims. The scene ends with the arrival of the Empress.
The same night Herman gets into the Countess’s bedroom. “It’s decided, I’ll draw the secret from the old woman.” The Countess returns from the ball party, followed by the servile dependants. She stays alone, recollecting her past. Herman appears. He begs the Countess to reveal him a secret of the three cards, even if it “involves a terrible sin, the curse of pleasure, a contract with the devil.” The Countess is scared to death. She doesn’t react to Herman’s pleadings or threats. The Countess dies, Herman nearly gets mad. Liza is desperate: “You didn’t need me, you wanted the cards.”
Two days later Herman attends the Countess’s funeral service in the Kazan Cathedral. After the service he returns to the barracks. Frightening visions torture him. Herman hears the Countess’s voice: “Save Liza, marry her, and the three cards will win. Remember: the three... the seven... the ace...”
At the same time Liza is waiting for him at the embankment of the Winter Canal. Midnight strikes. Herman has come but he merely doesn’t see Liza. He repeats her words unconsciously. Herman cannot resist his madness. He pushes Liza away and runs to the gambling house. Liza is desperate, she dashes to the canal.
The frequent visitors of the gambling house — Surin, Tomsky, Chekalinsky, Chaplitsky, Narumov, among other officers — have fun. They are surprised to see Herman, who is deadly pale, with mad eyes. They are even more surprised, when Herman decides to stake. The three wins. Herman doubles the stake. The seven wins, too. Everybody is shocked. Herman is triumphant: “Why are you feeling down? Are you scared?” Herman stakes for the third time. This time Herman plays against Prince Yeletsky. Instead of the ace Herman has the queen of spades. He sees the traits of the Countess in the card: “What do you need? My life? Take it! Take it!” Herman commits suicide, asking for Liza’s forgiveness.