[Met Performance] CID:209490

The Queen of Spades
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 18, 1967

In English

The Queen of Spades (23)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky | Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Teresa Stratas

Jon Vickers

Jean Madeira

Prince Yeletsky
William Walker

Count Tomsky
John Reardon

Dan Marek

Lorenzo Alvary

Joann Grillo

Carlotta Ordassy

Master of Ceremonies
Gene Boucher

Loretta Di Franco

Gabor Carelli

Louis Sgarro

Carolyn Martin

Lawrence Eddington

Thomas Schippers

Review 1:

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Dallas Times-Herald

Tchaikowsky A Problem On Lyric Stage

NEW YORK-Last May, when the Metropolitan Opera presented Tchaikowsky's "Queen of Spades" in Dallas, it was said that, with a good tenor, it would be a hit. On a recent night, the tenor was the great Canadian, Jon Vickers, and yet the evening was still a crashing bore.

The problem is partly with Tchaikowsky, an orchestral composer not particularly at home on the lyric stage. But he did create a musical line. Tchaikowsky was a masterful composer for the orchestra and wrote in a consistent and highly individual style. Every note in this opera should be connected and the scenes should easily flow one into the other. That they did not on this night was the fault solely of the conductor, Thomas Schippers.

Mr. Schippers conducts this opera as though it were Italian. By extending rests at the end of lyrical statements, he creates arias and recitatives and generally destroys the musical flow. The leitmotifs in this opera, leitmotifs of great beauty and easy identification, are heard as unconnected musical references which just pop up out of the score.

The effect of his approach is to kill the appeal of the music and to make the score seem banal and the evening indescribably dull.

The singers were uniformly excellent. Mr. Vickers sang a fascinating Gherman. This romantic hero with the idee fixe of getting the secret of the three cards should be the perfect role for the great tenor.

That his characterization was not quite the sum of its parts lies in the peculiar nature of Tchaikowsky's writing. We had the dramatic Vickers and then the lyrical Vickers, but the composer asks the tenor to be midway between most of the time, a feat practically impossible to accomplish, With that qualification said, mention should be made of his beautiful A's and B flats, his magnificent attack on all of the runs, and flawless piano singing.

Teresa Stratas, the Lisa, sang without the handicap of the high fever which she had last May in Dallas. Her character was warm and her two arias, "Oh! Dreams of Love Eternal" and "I am so weary, worn with grief," expressed the tragic sadness of the young Russian girl. Her Lisa moved the audience.

Jean Madeira sang the Countess, the real Queen of Spades. Her blood-chilling and well sung interpretation reached its climax in her death scene which had a horrible air of realism about it. William Walker repeated the splendid Prince Yeletsky which he sang in Dallas.

The ballet and the pastorale interlude brought the eighteenth century once again to life. The sets look as fresh as they did last year, with the music room and the scene on the banks of the Neva particularly beautiful. Henry Butler's staging is no more original or inventive this year than last.

If the icy response of the audience indicates anything, the "Queen of Spades" is in its last season of repertory at the Metropolitan. It need not have been so; the "Queen of Spades" may not ever become "Aida" or even "Boris Godunov," but at least it ought to have a chance to be judged at its best advantage; With the present conductor, such is apparently impossible.

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