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Sunday, March 3rd
The penniless soldier Gherman has fallen in love with Liza, even though she is engaged to his friend Yeletsky. Gherman learns that Liza’s guardian the Countess knows a winning three-card formula. Gherman determines to wrest the secret from the Countess, gain a fortune through gambling and marry Liza.
Tchaikovsky began work on The Queen of Spades in 1889. He based it on a short story by Alexander Pushkin, one of his favourite writers. He and his brother Modest (his co-librettist) dramatically altered Pushkin’s plot, turning Gherman from a cynical opportunist into an ardent lover and Liza into a tragic figure. Tchaikovsky put a great deal of work into the opera’s premiere at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre in 1890, and was thrilled by its success.