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Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) [DVD] [2002]

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Yuri Marusin, Nancy Gustafson, Felicity Palmer, Sergei Leiferkus, Dimitri Kharitonov
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Russian, Castilian
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Jan. 2002
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005Y0MY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,403 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Sound: PCM Stereo
Picture: 4:3
Menu languages: GB, D, F, SP
Subtitles: GB, D, F, SP
Region code: 2,5

From Amazon.co.uk

This Glyndebourne production of Pique Dame ("The Queen of Spades") received rave reviews when it appeared in 1992 due to its claustrophobic intensity and powerful acting, and these qualities help it to transfer to DVD with great success. Graham Vick's direction ensures that the story is told clearly and simply but includes a wealth of telling details: the pastoral scene from Act 2, for example, uses the boys from the opening chorus as comical sheep and the effect is enchanting. But there are much darker undertones too: Richard Hudson's slanting, angular designs produce a disorientating atmosphere which mirrors Herman's increasing mental deterioration with uncanny precision. There is a brilliant stroke of visual assonance when the Countess returns to haunt Herman and all the furniture from her death scene appears on the roof.

The singing is generally good, though Yuri Marusin's voice may not be to everyone's taste; sometimes he sounds like he's shouting, and his frequent lack of vibrato produces a piercing, uncomfortable effect. Nancy Gustafson is a fine Lisa, however, and Dimitri Kharitonov (Yeletsky) is heartbreaking in the famous "Ya vas lyublyu" ("I love you") aria. For overall better singing but a more plodding production, try the 1992 Kirov recording, but for spine-tingling drama this is the one to go for.

On the DVD: Pique Dame on disc has subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish. The camerawork captures the odd angularity of the designs and gives an excellent account of a fast-paced, powerful production.--Warwick Thomson

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Considered by many - the composer included - Tchaikovsky's greatest opera. the psychologically acute, emotionally intense atmosphere of the melodrama Pique Dame (Queen of Spades) is a world away from the more familiar, gentle (if intensely sad) Eugene Onegin.

The orchestration is extraordinary in the way it picks up the emotional state of the main characters (particularly Lisa and Herman) and adds a powerful propulsive force at the great high points of their development. It is as though they were being driven on by the music, which carries an implied morbidity. Added to that, the use of a number of specific motifs related to, for example, fate and the three cards - which develop as the action progresses - and fantastic work in the strings all combine to make Herman's ultimate destiny - descent from obsession to a deranged paranoid madness - seem inexorable and inevitable.

This 1992 Glyndebourne production with Graham Vick's staging presents all this with ingenious and imaginative clarity. The basic set is modern and abstract, a white rhomboid cube narrowing towards the back of the stage (and thus drawing our eye there). The centre of this cube is dark black with frantic black ink scratches - like an angry Scarfe cartoon - emanating from it. In the elegant first scene, the Summer Gardens, the black space is opened out as a white rhombus containing a drastically wind-swept tree (there is another one on stage). Costumes are refined and beautifully detailed haute bourgeois and military outfits. Here we meet all the protagonists. As the opera progresses the stage space is narrowed down or opened out to reflect the action: Lisa's room and the Countess' room both verge on the claustrophobic, the Ball and Canal scenes are opened out.
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A truly classic production by Vick of this most tempestuous and melodramatic of Tchaikovsky stage works. Even at Glyndebourne it does not get any better than this. We are far from the common fare of European opera houses, with sets that are nauseating as everyday things would seem in a deranged mind like Herman's, and with plenty of visual splendour, like the Technicolor films of yore. The sets take a few minutes to get used to, but compare this to the bland, standardized Kirov production of approximately the same time (also out on DVD), you are bound to prefer this one almost unconditionally. Sadly, Masurin as Herman sounds a bit off, but his portrayal is of staggering emotional appeal. Gustafson's Lisa, predictably, is wonderful and agile, and Palmer's Countess is a tour-de-force into schmaltz and Gothic. Young baritone Kharitonov makes a vivid impression as Yeletsky. Maybe the London Philharmonic brass is not always up to par, but conductor Davis brings out the lyrical best of the orchestra, and the lushness of the strings is a thing to strike you with awe.
Go for it, then.
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By H. A. Weedon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 July 2013
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Here we have a brilliant 1992 recording of the proclaimed Glyndebourne production of 'The Queen of Spades'. For the purposes of his opera Tchaikovsky was wise to make changes to Alexander Pushkin's 1834 original story, in which Herman ends up in a lunatic asylum and Lisa marries an appropriately decent sort of a fellow, the kind of ending which would have considerably diminished the dramatic effect as we now have it in this greatest of the composer's operas. Glyndebourne achieves maximum realism from staging the action within cleverly designed 'skewed' staging which enhances the performance at every turn.

The endearingly staged scene early in the opera, in which boys and girls play at soldiers, aptly illustrates the pathos inherent in the innocence of childhood games. Some of the children return, dressed up as sheep, to perform effectively in the ballet early in Act 2. The children remind us that Herman has all the attributes of a lost child trying to come to terms with an alien environment. The only non-aristocratic officer in his regiment, he suffers from an inferiority complex, which he strives hard to overcome to the detriment of developing his abilities as an officer. His prospects are not helped by his falling in love with the adorable Lisa who is betrothed to Prince Yeletsky.

Whilst watching some of his fellow officers gambling, Herman hears an account of how Lisa's grandmother, the old Countess, won a vast amount of money from having revealed to her the secret formula of three winning cards. From then on Herman becomes obsessed with discovering the formula that he believes will enable him to gamble and win a vast fortune that will enable him to overcome his inferior social status and make him more acceptable as a suitable husband for Lisa.
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All fine A+
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