The Queen of Spades | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Queen of Spades


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


The Queen of Spades

Tchaikovsky didn't shy away from emotional highs and lows, and what he couldn't quite convey through his orchestral music he poured into his two finest operas, Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, both tragedies based on Pushkin stories. In The Queen of Spades an army officer, Ghermann, falls in love with Lisa, the granddaughter of a countess who's an ace gambler in possession of the secret of a winning hand, which he desperately wants to learn. Clearly influenced by Carmen in its lyrical passion and handling of the ironic twists of fate, the opera is uneven, though most of the music is picturesquely charming, especially when it reaches for Mozartean grace. Tchaikovsky strives too hard for Wagnerian grandeur, wallows too much in pathos, and can't always manage to keep the plot convincing, but the work is still spellbinding in its depiction of gilded elegance and swooning love and in its sense of doom. This is the first time the Lyric has done this opera, and the company has spared no expense lining up a top-notch cast and a designer, Richard Hudson, known for colorful, sumptuous sets and costumes, including those for The Lion King. Ghermann is sung by Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine, whose voice is said to be robust and sweet. The countess is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer, Lisa by creamy-toned Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman. Her betrothed, Prince Yeletsky, is sung by Danish baritone Bo Skovhus. Graham Vick, a Lyric regular, is the stage director, and Andrew Davis, in his first outing as Lyric's music director, conducts. Saturday, 6 PM, Wednesday, 7:30 PM, and next Sunday, October 1, 2 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; 312-332-2244.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Hans van den Boggard--De Nederlandse Opera.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment