The Queen of Spades

opera in three acts

music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

3 hours 30 minutes
1 act
60 min
interval 30 min
2 act
55 min
interval 20 min
3 act
45 min
for viewers over 12 years old
performed in Russian

This production has graced our stage for more than three decades. The aesthetics of this production, closely tied to operatic tradition, have become a symbol of the esteem in which the classics are held. The sights of St. Petersburg and magnificent palace interiors form the backdrop against which Pushkins mystical tale unfolds. Symbols of the real world, such as the latticework of the Summer Garden, form a natural setting for the heros wild fantasies, within which the hero falls completely beneath the sway of his feverish senses. Caught up in a succession of supernatural events, he loses all touch with time. Tchaikovskys inspired music captures the inevitability of his imminent destruction.

Act I

Scene 1

Summer gardens in St Petersburg. Early spring. People are strolling in the alleys. Everybody is happy with the first sunny day, but Herman is gloomy. He is desperately in love, but his beloved one is a noble lady and she cannot get married to a poor officer.
Prince Yeletsky announces his soon wedding: he is marrying the granddaughter of an old countess. He introduces Lisa to his friends. Herman is in despair: prince’s fiancée is the object of his passion.
Tomsky tells a fantastic story of a countess who keeps a secret of three winning cards. Herman’s friends mockingly suggest that he find out the countess’s secret. Thunderstorm begins. Herman swears that while he is alive, he will never let the prince marry his beloved girl.

Scene 2

Lisa’s bedroom. Her friends celebrate Lisa’s engagement. At last, Lisa is alone. All her thoughts are about the mysterious stranger.
Suddenly Herman appears. Lisa listens to his confessions passionately. Unexpected appearance of the countess interrupts the date. Herman recollects the Tomsky’s story. Now Herman wants to live, to learn the card secret from the countess, to be happy...

Act II

Scene 3

A rich nobleman is throwing a ball. All the evening, Herman’s friends scoff at him, asking him whether he will be able to learn the secret of the three cards and if he will marry his beloved.
After the pastoral, Herman sees the countess. When Lisa gives him the keys to her bedroom which connects to the countess’s one Herman thinks it is an omen. Tonight he will learn the secret of the three cards, and knowing it, will win Lisa’s hand.

Scene 4

Countess’s bedroom. Herman looks at the portrait of the young countess obsessively. Hearing the steps he hides. The countess enters escorted by her toadeaters. The countess looks at her portrait and recalls her past days. She falls asleep in the armchair.
Herman reveals himself begging her to reveal the secret of the three cards. The countess, who has grown dumb with fright, says nothing. Herman frightens her with a gun — and the frightened old woman falls dead. All his hopes are lost, and he goes nearly mad.


Scene 5

Barracks at night. Herman rereads Lisa’s request about a meeting. His imagination draws him pictures of the countess’s death and funeral. He sees her ghost and she tells him the secret of the three cards: “The three, the seven, the ace!”

Scene 6

Lisa is waiting for Herman at the embankment. It is midnight already. Herman appears. Lisa is terrified to hear all his mad ideas; she tries to invoke his mind — all in vain. Possessed with the idea of using the secret of the three cards, Herman pushes Lisa away and leaves for the gambling house. Lisa decides to commit suicide.

Scene 7

The players are gambling in the casino. Suddenly Herman enters and to everybody’s surprise wins two large stakes betting on the three and the seven. Drunk with his luck, Herman bets all his money on the ace. But instead of the expected ace he sees the queen of spades. He can define the features of the dead countess on the card; her smile seems to be mocking at him. Growing mad Herman decides to commit suicide. He sees a ghost of Lisa and dies saying her name.

Premiere of the production: 23 May 1982

Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky after the novel by Alexander Pushkin

  • Stage DirectorStanislav Gaudasinsky
  • Stage DesignerSemyon Pastukh
  • Costume DesignerGalina Solovyova
  • Lighting DesignerMikhail Mekler
  • ChoreographerNikita Dolgushin
  • Principal PianistNatalia Dudik
  • Chorus MastersAlexey Dmitriev, Sergey Tsyplenkov

Sets and costumes produced at the Vozrozhdenie Theatrical Design Studios

What would you like
to see at the theatre?

Answer a few questions, and well select a performance to suit your taste

Select performances
More Gallery