"There is no use in a man protesting his own innocence"

For seventeen years of the new century (the eighteenth year has just begun), there is the third time the Bolshoi is going to show a new stage version of The Queen of Spades, what makes this opera an absolute repertoire leader. Find the clue to this story, explain the secret meaning of mystical events — these goals have long been pursued by directors not only in drama and cinema, but also in opera. For sure, they’re bowing before Tchaikovsky, but never diminishing Pushkin (however, his novella is known to be dramatically different from the libretto). That is a carte blanche for a stage director. So the Bolshoi Theatre trusted an acclaimed drama theater director Rimas Tuminas to stage the third* version of The Queen of Spades.

Alexander Soloviev, Tugan Sokhiev and Rimas Tuminas.

In the run-up to the premiere he lifts the veil over his performance:

Tchaikovsky’s music handled by Maestro Tugan Sokhiev will create a mystical mood and keep the viewer in suspense. My task is to tell a story.

Pushkin’s novella, followed by the opera, is permeated with a peculiar spirit of Saint-Petersburg. Petersburg’s style is easily recognized in the set, created by Adomas Jacovskis, and strictly kept in. The stage space remains little changed. Much more important for us is something flickering in it what exercises the imagination. The people in our performance are also unsteady, flickering. They do not enter, but appear in that blur, as on a photographic film. We see them as little demons (!). They are able to distance themselves, see themselves from the side and simultaneously tell their story.

Roman Muravitsky, Yusif Eyvazov.

Нerman, a stranger, a poor and nameless engineer. He dreams of being Individuality. He believes that only in the Ace-status he will become a respected man, who can even love himself. He claimed not love but money will raise him to this position. He doesn’t know how to love – that’s the real cause of his misery. His reflections on “what is our life? A game!” meant to be literal. He believes that he can make himself a great man. Another strange thing about Herman is that he has a tragic childish romantic living inside of him. Therefore, an anecdote about "the three cards" suddenly acquires a fatal turn. He is very unhappy, he hates and deliberately destroys himself. I feel sorry for him… “Ill fortune slays the dignity of a man,” I’m quoting The Path to the Cemetery by Thomas Mann, “There is a strange and dreadful concatenation of cause and effect there. There is no use in a man protesting his own innocence; in most cases he will despise himself for misfortune. But self-contempt and vice have a strange and horrible interrelationship: they feed each other, they play into each other’s hands in a way to make one’s blood run cold”.

We find our hero at times like this…

Larisa Diadkova, Rimas Tuminas, Sergei Radchenko, Oleg Dolgov.
Fotos by Damir Yusupov.

Rimas Tuminas has worked on the production with his long-established team, which already worked at the Bolshoi while staging the opera Katerina Izmailova by D. Shostakovich (2016). This time Anželika Cholina performed not only as a choreographer, but also as a director. The set is created by Adomas Jacovskis. Maria Danilova became the author of the costumes. Damir Ismagilov builds the light score of the performance. The musical director of the production is the chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre Maestro Tugan Sokhiev.

* Previous two:
Music Director: Mikhail Pletnev, Stage Director: Valery Fokin, Set Designer: Alexander Borovsky (October 5, 2007);
Music Director: Mikhail Jurowski, Stage Director: Lev Dodin, Set Designer: David Borovsky (February 27, 2015).