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29 March, 2011

Queen of Spades at the Met. March 27 matinee

Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades also had its final season outing on my first Saturday in the city so the matinee saw Conductor Andris Nelsons along with Vladimir Galouzine, Peter Mattei, Karita Mattila, Dolora Zajick, Paul Plishka … causing something of Stendahl shock for opera-staved visitors. I took some time to come down to earth after the substantial Saturday pleasure.

Mr Galouzine sang with his usual forthright style but always with a reserve suitable to the nature of the character. Ms Mattila gave a fine interpretation, again with a slight reticence to the part.

Yeletesky’s Act II aria ‘Ya vas lyublyu’ received a deservedly rapturous ovation as Peter Mattei showed just how it is done. It was the high point of the performance for me, not that there was anything less than engaging in this often neglected Russian masterpiece. [Pique Dame aria on YouTube with Vladimir Chernov.]

The story revolves around a mere soldier falling for a highly place lady and assuming that finding fortune is the only way to facilitate the union. It involves alcohol, gambling and cheating, not a good trio for a happy marriage and fate has it that his world finally collapses in the last act when the winning formula of three, seven and Ace fails him on his third supposedly triumphant wager.

The entire production was set in a large shiny white picture frame architrave. From large ballroom scenes to lonely bedroom all was sympathetic to the book. An old video of this opera from the Met with Domingo has been shown on Australian television.

Brief and inadequate comments by Andrew Byrne ..