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date: 15 October 2019

Queen of Spades, The [Pikovaya dama (Pique Dame)]locked

  • Richard Taruskin

Extract

[Pikovaya dama (Pique Dame)]

Opera in three acts, op.68, by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky to a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky and the composer after Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin’s novella (1833); St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre, 7/19 December 1890.

Modest Tchaikovsky’s libretto was originally prepared not for his brother but for the minor composer Nikolay Semyonovich Klenovsky (1853–1915), then a conductor at the Bol′shoy Theatre, Moscow, who had received a commission from Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Intendant, to write an opera on Pushkin’s famous story. Pyotr Tchaikovsky had expressed an interest in the tale as early as 1885, but once a lesser composer had been offered Modest’s libretto by the theatre directorate he had to wait until not only Klenovsky but also Nikolay Solov’yov had exercised their right of refusal before he could tackle it himself.

The entire opera was composed in Florence in 44 days of frenzied inspiration (30 January–14 March 1890...

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