The 130th anniversary of the “The Queen of Spades” by P.I. Tchaikovsky first performance at the Mariinsky Theater

On the central photo: Composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky with Nikolai and Medea Figner, the first performers of Herman and Liza parts in the opera "The Queen of Spades", 1890

The opera "The Queen of Spades" was written by the composer P.I. Tchaikovsky in Florence in the early spring of 1890, and the first production was realized on 19 December 1890 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. The opera creation initiator was Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky, the director of the Imperial theaters. He invited the composer Tchaikovsky to write music. The beginning of negotiations with Tchaikovsky dates back to 1887-1888. Hence, at first the plot did not inspire the composer to work. Tchaikovsky's younger brother, Modest Ilyich, who by this time had begun his literary activity under the pseudonym Govorov, took up the case. He began to write a libretto for his older brother. The libretto of the opera differed from the play original. Even the action was transferred from the era of Alexander I to the era of Catherine. At the same time, critics admired the music, and even avid Pushkinists did not oppose the plot interpretations. The music for the opera was created for six months - from January 1890 to June 1890. The composer introduced elements of authentic music of the Russian 18th century and Orthodox funeral singing that sounded behind the stage into the score.

The Moscow premiere of “The Queen of Spades” at the Bolshoi Theater took place on November 4, 1891. Gradually, the opera entered the repertoire of many theaters in Europe and America:
- October 11, 1892 - first production outside Russia, premiered in Prague (performed in Czech).
- 1902 - first production in Vienna, Vienna State Opera.
- 1904 - staged at the Bolshoi Theater (Moscow), was conducted by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
- March 5, 1910 - first production in the USA, New York, conducted by Gustav Mahler (performed in German).
- May 29, 1915 - first production in Great Britain, London (performed in Russian).

Musical selection for the 130th anniversary of the first production of “The Queen of Spades” is presented in our Music Library.

It is noteworthy that this year we are marking the 160th anniversary of the first theatrical season in the Mariinsky Theater new building, which opened in October 1860, with the opera “A Life for the Tsar” by Mikhail Glinka and was conducted by the Chief chapelmaster of the Russian Opera, Konstantin Lyadov. Throughout its long history, the Mariinsky Theater has presented to the world a large number of prominent and talented actors, including the outstanding bass - Osip Afanasievich Petrov, who was also the founder of the Russian performing opera school, Fyodor Ignatievich Stravinsky (father of the Russian composer - Igor Stravinsky), Feodor Chaliapin, Ivan Yershov, Sophia Preobrazhenskaya and many others.
The Mariinsky Theater made the prominent contribution to the development of Russian opera and ballet art.

The Theater history: https://www.mariinsky.ru/about/history/mariinsky_theatre/