TAKE the of work of Russia’s greatest writer, add the music of its best loved composer and mix in a brilliant revival of a ground-breaking production and one stupendous night is in store.
And stumbling shell-shocked out into the Hurst Street air after three and a half hours of The Queen of Spades, Brum’s clubland packed with revellers, one couldn’t but feel that it was the theatregoers who had easily the best night.
Tchaikovsky had already added a bit of top spin to Pushkin’s original tragedy of love and the lure of gambling but under the direction of first Richard Jones and now Benjamin Davis the whole work has been turbo-charged for a 21st Century audience.
It may have left some of the older patrons a tad non-plussed, but this was very much a work for a new era and a new audience.
Turning Herman’s nightmare scene turned through 90 degrees so we were looking down on his bedroom from on high was a touch of genius (How was he held in place?) and then the shock as the skeleton of the countess emerges from under the covers forced gasps from the audience.
And yet this was only one of many highlights from a production which kept everyone on the edge of their seats making the time race by.
Particularly noteworthy was the beautiful pastoral scene, complete with puppeteers and the final rousing drinking and gambling chorus where love loses to the lure of the cards.
Meanwhile underpinning it all was Tchaikovsky’s brilliant score.
The main ensemble pieces in particular worked well, the chorus blasting out the numbers while the two ill-fated leads – Misha Didyk’s Herman and Tatiana Monogarova’s Lisa were outstanding as were their supports Tomas Tomasson’s Count Tomsky and Dario Solari’s Prince Yeletsky.
The entire evening in short, was nothing less than a triumph and one waits with bated breath for the return of the Welsh National Opera to the Hippodrome again in the autumn.