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Geoff

ROH Queen Of Spades

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Facing a lot of contradictory information - critics divided, friends even more so (one walked out, another said best thing in years and is going back) - I thought it would be a good idea to  canvass opinions. Anyone (I haven’t seen it yet so am genuinely interested)? 

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I enjoyed the evening.  Singing is very good (though Antonenko struggles quite a lot) and musically it seems to work (be prepared for some interloping from another composer, mind).  Not really too keen on the large amount of the production that is based on (a) Tchaikovsky's rumoured homosexuality and (b) the suggestion that he caught cholera after drinking infected water but I found it quite easy to concentrate on the music rather than that.  Excellent sets (with some clever ideas) but there are a few overdone clichés; costumes also very good but some are just a bit too similar to distinguish between the characters if you don't know the piece overly well.

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I’d vaguely got the impression that all the characters were dressed as Tchaikovsky - in the cinema on Tuesday so may go (weather permitting).

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My daughter is studying Pushkin’s Queen of Spades at uni this term but is unable to get to the cinema for the live stream.  Her tutor says the RO production is “not really anything like the story”; can anyone tell me if this is this the case?  I know neither the novel nor the Opera. 😞

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30 minutes ago, Anna C said:

Her tutor says the RO production is “not really anything like the story

 

You might like to try this:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jan/14/queen-of-spades-review-royal-opera-house-herheim-tchaikovsky?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

 

And the Royal Opera House website provides information and various links:

https://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-queen-of-spades-by-stefan-herheim

 

Some cinemas have encore screenings next Sunday.

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Thank you, John.  She can’t make the encore on Sunday either but reading the review and information, the RO version doesn’t sound like a vital study resource!  I’ll have to see if there’s another production of the opera on dvd that is closer to the story. ☺️

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4 hours ago, Anna C said:

My daughter is studying Pushkin’s Queen of Spades at uni this term but is unable to get to the cinema for the live stream.  Her tutor says the RO production is “not really anything like the story”; can anyone tell me if this is this the case?  I know neither the novel nor the Opera. 😞

 

Anna, you and your daughter might like to look at this:

 

http://veganconductor.blogspot.com/2018/04/pushkin-vs-tchaikovsky-queen-of-spades.html

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By and large I agree with BBB and I did enjoy the production. Having said that, I was irritated by the unremitting conducting and piano playing of the ever-present Tchaikovsky and felt that his presence diluted the dramatic impact of what should have been the main thrust of the story. This seems to be a thing with recent ROH Tchaikovsky operas, witness the doppelganger dancers that distanced the audience from the emotional impact in Eugene Onegin. That same 'distancing' could be felt here, particularly with Antonenko's Gherman who, in the manner of Odile/Von Rothbart, frequently referenced Tchaikovsky for guidance rather than reacting to the events and characters around him. But luscious sets and costumes, plaudits to the chorus, orchestra and conductor and terrific performances from some, if not all, principals.

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10 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

By and large I agree with BBB and I did enjoy the production. Having said that, I was irritated by the unremitting conducting and piano playing of the ever-present Tchaikovsky and felt that his presence diluted the dramatic impact of what should have been the main thrust of the story. This seems to be a thing with recent ROH Tchaikovsky operas, witness the doppelganger dancers that distanced the audience from the emotional impact in Eugene Onegin.

 

I never thought of that link when reading the QoS reviews. Possibly because I hated that Onegin production so much that I try not to remember it! It's probably a good thing that I haven't booked for QoS as I suspect I'd have a similar reaction.

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I loathed that production too, Dawnstar. Despite the irritation of the Tchaikovsky interpolations, this still managed to be enjoyable, albeit it felt like a lost opportunity. Catch it and see what you think.

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Scheherezade/dawnstar - as a matter of interest, did you see the Onegin production when it was new or when it was revived? The revival greatly improved it, due, I'm told, to changes made when it was done in Australia which were carried through to the revival.

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I saw both. Didn’t like it to begin with, returned for the revival with some trepidation, and enjoyed it considerably more.

 

I saw the dress rehearsal of Queen of Spades (at which Lee Bisset stood in for Eva-Maria Westbroek), and had mixed views. I found it rather frustrating. I loved the visuals, and I liked it as a piece of theatre in its own right. I also thought it would bear a few repeat viewings in order to get my head around all the imagery. But I found it frustrating as a telling of the story.

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And the story that it did tell shunted the main story to that of a tale told 'at a remove', which was worse than frustrating.

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After reading several unenthusiastic reviews I was a bit wary. But in the main I enjoyed it, although couldn't quite see the point of it. Musically superb and an excellent replacement Gherman in Sergey Polyakov. But Felicity Palmer was the real scene stealer! Also good to get decent cast lists and cast change slips.

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On 21/01/2019 at 23:59, Scheherezade said:

I loathed that production too, Dawnstar. Despite the irritation of the Tchaikovsky interpolations, this still managed to be enjoyable, albeit it felt like a lost opportunity. Catch it and see what you think.

 

I'm afraid that I'm not prepared to spend time or (quite a lot of, given it's the ROH) money on seeing a production that I very much doubt would be to my taste. I saw OHP's production in 2016 and even in that mercifully straightforward production, and with several singers I like in the cast, I wasn't that keen on the piece itself so don't feel the need to see it again unless it gets done with singers I like in a reasonable production in the future.

 

23 hours ago, RuthE said:

Scheherezade/dawnstar - as a matter of interest, did you see the Onegin production when it was new or when it was revived? The revival greatly improved it, due, I'm told, to changes made when it was done in Australia which were carried through to the revival.

 

I saw the original run in 2013. I'm glad to hear that it was improved subsequently. I hope that the improvements included banishing those extremely irritating dancing doubles!

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No, the doubles remained a key element of the production, but were less annoying second time around because the way the principals related to them was better-developed.

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Hmm, I still don't think I'll be rushing to see it again! I regret they got rid of the previous production, which I did like.

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38 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I regret they got rid of the previous production, which I did like.

My usual response, Dawnstar, which clearly marks me down as one of those stunted, unimaginative audience members whom Kasper Holten felt ought to be re-educated.

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Same here! For balance, I should say that I loved his production of L'Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It's funny how, out of 2 productions by the same director, one can be probably my second favourite production of a baroque opera in 15 years of operagoing & other one of my least favourite productions of anything!

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It's a pity that the partnership with the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse seems to have been so short-lived.

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