A sneak peek at ‘Pique Dame’

Pushkin’s dark tale of obsession, greed and death comes to the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv.

July 2, 2010 16:09
2 minute read.
Passions ablaze in Tchaikovsky's opera, Pique Dame

pique dame opera 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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With demons stirring within characters, love emerging between two people with conflicting intentions and separate paths to follow, and a passion for gambling, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s opera, Pique Dame, based on a short story by Alexander Pushkin, takes to the stage of the Israeli Opera-Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on June 25.

The opera will be performed in Russian, with subtitles in English and Hebrew. Keri-Lynn Wilson, the acclaimed Canadian conductor and Juilliard graduate who performed her debut at age 21 at Carnegie Hall, will be conducting the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion. Award-winning Polish director Mariusz Trelinski will be directing the performance.

The story opens with Herman, played by Victor Lutsiuk, watching soldiers gamble while a blazing passion churns within him, as he is in love with a woman he doesn’t know.

Prince Yeletsky, played by Vladimir Petrov, enters the scene, brimming with happiness about his upcoming wedding. His fiancée, Lisa, played by Ira Bertman, arrives with her guardian, the Countess, played by Anja Silja. Upon seeing Lisa, Herman realizes that she is his beloved.

Gossip about the Countess is spread, and Herman learns that she used to be named The Queen of Spades because she had once gambled her entire fortune away, only to win it back by mastering the formula of Count St. German. She has revealed her secret to only two people, but it is said that a third man would force the secret from her with a fury of passion. Herman vows that he will elicit the secret from the Countess. At the same time, Lisa’s heart begins to yearn for Herman.

“The Countess is someone who does not belong to the time in which she lives. She lives in another era, in the glory of the 18th century, and has no real connection to the world in which she actually lives,” Silja told Billboard.  “She is a woman who can look at her present through the knowledge and experience of the past. For me there are a lot of similarities because I, too, can look at the present based on the long life experience and career that I have had,” she says.

“I like the role of the Countess because she is a woman who is very sure of herself. Even if she seems somewhat detached, she doesn’t just care about herself and how she looks but she also cares about the granddaughter she loves. Being a mother and grandmother myself helps me understand her much better,” says Silja.

“I have performed this role in many productions, and I am very happy to be back with the Israeli Opera in this beautiful production of Pique Dame.”

Pique Dame opens June 25 at The Israeli Opera-Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at NIS 175.

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