Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera

The moon was almost full as the crowed filled the courtyard around the famous fountain at Lincoln Center last Friday night. The spring is almost here and the people are coming out into the night now that the cold has gone away for the year. The spring and Fall, in New York are the best for the weather is almost perfect, no unbearable heat of the summer and no freezing cold that the winter brings. So as is expected for the Opera the Women are in skirts and dresses and the men in nice jackets and light sweaters. The Metropolitan Opera always starts on time so getting uptown on time is a must. This night the stage was set for a production of Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades." The music was written by the great composer but the plot was adapted from a short story published by Alexander S. Pushkin in 1834. The story is set in the late 1700. The last years of Empress Catherine the great. This opera had its premiere in St. Petersburg in 1890. Which if fitting for Act 1 opens in a public park of the great Capitol in the Summer. The Stage opens on Hermann (Vladimir Galouzine) a dark men with a dark mind. He is walking through his world in a kind of daze as the rest of polite society are living around him. Hermann admits to the Count Tomsky (Alexey Markov) that he is in love with a girl he does not know. When the Prince, Yeletsky (Peter Mattei) enters with his new fiancee Lisa (Karita Mattila) and her grandmother The Countess, (Dolora Zajick) Hermann knows that it is Lisa he has fallen for. As the day gets late Tomsky shares the history of the Countess and how she won her fortune in Paris Decades ago with "the three cards." The countess stills keeps the secret of "the three cards" and will die at the hand of whom ever takes the information from her. The others laugh at this fairy tale but Hermann has had the seed planted in his mind. That night he begs for Lisa's love and wins affection taking her in his arms. In the second act there is a grand ball with wonderful dress and dance. Lisa has become icy toward the prince and he knows that something has happened to her feelings for him. Lisa sneaks Hermann a key for the house to use after the Countess leaves on a trip. Hermann driven by his imagination uses the key to confront the Countess and gain the secret of the Cards. This is a tale of Love, Obsession, and Madness. How will the Cards Lay? Who will escape the fate that the cards tell? Completely played out in Russian this Opera is as emotional as it sounds. Framed on the stage with a set that seem as deep as the characters. Every stage set up pulls the audience deeper into this torchered tale. Mark Thompsom has out done himself on the costumes for "Queen of Spades." The beautiful and detailed costumes feel muted and faded and bring a rich texture to the production. Tchaikovsky's music is full of the build ups and breaks downs of the cast of characters and Conductor Andris Nelson keep this ominous score together by using all the talent in his orchestra. At the Ball in Act 2 there is a play within the play where two lovers are in Cupid's hands. This is where one sees the Dance that is a staple for Operas of the time. Choreographer John Meehan gets his own story to tell in this Ballet of two lovers. The Dancers are angelic and happy and his story has a happy ending. Will the real Drama have this type of ending? Will the Cards save them or damn them? One has only one more chance to find out this Saturday in the gold room at The Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center Plaza.
Queen of Spades -
Saturday, March 26, 2011, 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

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