Opera “The Queen of Spades” by the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky is considered the culmination of his creative work, which combines all of his previous achievements. “The Queen of Spades” was composed in mere 44 days, but the success of the opera has surpassed all expectations. The musical tragedy attracts viewers with unrivaled brightness of its dramatic development, and amazes with realistic characters, their feelings and thoughts; their suffering, hope and death.
Fateful story of creation of “The Queen of Spades”
Union Avenue Opera. Queen of Spades. The photo by Patrick Huber (CC, flickr)
As the basis for the plot of “The Queen of Spades” was the namesake story by the Russian poet and writer Alexander Pushkin, but the libretto differs significantly in representing psychological portraits of the main characters, in their social status and in the general mood from the works of Pushkin. Tchaikovsky’s music is closer to the images of his last symphonies, where in the foreground there is a theme of fate, misfortune that destroys dreams, hopes, and the man himself. In essence, the plot of the opera is a brand new work written on the basis of Pushkin’s story.
Interestingly, but before Tchaikovsky the story of “The Queen of Spades” has already been used in the opera by Frenchman Halevy and the operetta by German Zuppe, but they failed to create memorable works. Only Tchaikovsky could describe the nature of the main characters so well by adding some drama and depth to them that his opera became a work of genius.
While working on the musical score, the composer became so connected with the story that, according to him, in the evenings he evenstarted being afraid of ghosts. Perhaps this should be taken seriously, because the plot for the story was taken by Pushkin from real life.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky.The Queen of Spades. Vladimir Galouzine, Nataliya Tymchenko
Interesting facts from the history of productions of “The Queen of Spades”
- “The Queen of Spades” holds a record for the biggest number of changes such as editing, adding and rethinking by the directors of different eras. Almost every new reincarnation of the opera is accompanied by stormy discussions and debates. The reason lies in the different nature of characters created by Pushkin and Tchaikovsky, their interpretations and ideological representations. Many directors tried to bring opera closer to the literary original by tweaking Tchaikovsky. But in the end such innovations led only to flaws in dramaturgy and erased the main idea of the opera by completely destroying its idea and its “soul”.
- The part of the main character – Herman, is considered one of the most difficult in the opera world. Basically, during the whole opera he is not only actively singing, but is also experiencing tremendous physical and emotional stress by being on stage during all seven parts of the opera. But, nevertheless, there is no such tenorwho would not dream about singing the part of Herman.
- The influence of the opera “The Queen of Spades” on the development of Russian and world art was strong. Tchaikovsky’s music and his reincarnation of Pushkin’s characters were later reflected in a number of paintings, literary and musical works.
The famous opera to this day remains one of the gems of the international opera heritage.