Tschaikowsky, Queen of Spades

Sunday night was back to the Stanislavsky Theater, this time for Tschaikowsky‘s Queen of Spades. This performance came up an ace.

Excellent ensemble cast, excellent orchestra under the baton of Feliks Korobov, and overall good balance. The staging was suggestive – not quite minimalist, but not fully traditional either (except traditional costumes). This particular stage production debuted in 1976 and obviously has held up to the test of time. I would not say it added any insights, but that is fine – it allowed the plot to remain clear and the singers to perform. That is what it a staging is supposed to do. And as a result, the cast could shine, especially the main character, German, sung by Dmitry Polkopin.

As I have mentioned previously, the Stanislavsky is more highly-regarded than the Bolshoi at the moment, and for good reason. The Bolshoi is in the midst of a reconstruction worthy of a major Italian opera house, with all the passion and politics without the primacy of the music. The Bolshoi house has been under reconstruction for years and no one knows when it will be done, so they are using the small rehearsal stage. It is still the Bolshoi, but lacks luster and the most serious people have left. On the other hand, the Stanislavsky performs in a beautifully-renovated theater up the street, and has solid artistic leadership and resources without all the bickering. This results in enjoyable nights at the opera.

I found the Stanislavsky’s unclear politicization of May Night (which I attended on 28 February) distracting from an otherwise good performance. But this Queen of Spades was on a par with the Onegin I saw there in the Fall. Just get on with the music.


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