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More shenanigans from Stefan Herheim’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), filmed in Amsterdam in 2016. A fascinating interpretation, as the composer is on stage pretty much throughout, revealing his homosexuality in his adoration of Hermann, who in turn loves Liza but also crops up as Catherine the Great. Polina is a young Tchaikovsky, the Countess sports a man’s dress shirt, and there’s the sudden realization that the composer is in fact Yeletsky. It sounds potentially confusing and certainly keeps the viewer on their toes, but it’s a tight- knit concept that is adept and fascinating. One slight casualty amidst all the sexual tension is Hermann’s obsession with the three playing cards, which has to share emotional space with the other neurotic onstage infatuations. Mariss Jansons conducts with clarity and passion, the orchestra and chorus are excellent and the cast is strong. Misha Didyk’s confident tenor encompasses Hermann, displaying a good top; Svetlana Aksenova’s forthright soprano likewise has no problems as Liza. Alexey Markov and Vladimir Stoyanov share baritone honours with aplomb, the latter particularly tireless in his portrayal of Tchaikovsky. Anna Goryachova is a smooth Polina and Larissa Diadkova a subtle Countess, only just over the hill and thankfully not over the top. A co-production with Covent Garden, catch it if you can.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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