Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-03-17
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



OPERA REVIEW The Queen of Spades
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Score: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky;

Libretto: Modest Tchaikovsky; after Alexander Pushkin. At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Dr. Tickets: 312-827-5600 or; $39-$299. Runs through: March 1; sung in Russian with projected English translations

It's been two decades since The Queen of Spades ( a.k.a. Pique Dame ) last graced the stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Back then it marked the start of Sir Andrew Davis tenure as Lyric's music director, so there's symmetry to him conducting Tchaikovsky's penultimate opera from 1890 with such care and nuance before he steps down next season.

This time, the Lyric presents director Richard Jones' well-traveled Welsh National Opera production from 2000. Rather than sticking to the opera's prescribed 18th-century imperial Russian setting during Catherine the Great's reign, Jones and his design team present a mélange of grubby 20th-century styles.

Traditionalists will be frustrated to decipher the exact era, but this allows production designer John Macfarlane to surrealistically play with decay and death visuals amid memories of lost youth. There's also a Grey Gardens documentary vibe, especially for the dilapidated mansion interiors which features a flattened-out painting of the youthful Countess propped against a wall.

The Lyric's Queen of Spades cast is top-notch. Not only do they navigate Tchaikovsky's gorgeously melancholy score with aplomb, they dig deep into the obsessive psychology of its unhinged characters.

Tenor Brandon Jovanovich passionately tears into Gherman, a gambling-fixated soldier who will stop at nothing to find out the three-card secret to winning the game of faro ( known only to the elderly Countess of Jane Henschel ).

So Gherman stalks and seduces the Countess' servant-like granddaughter Lisa, who is played with great agitation and despair by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Lisa falls for the unstable Gherman, even though she has a sure-bet investment in her engagement to Prince Yeletsky ( Lucas Meachem, who is vocally solid and appropriately stolid as an upstanding character ).

There's great interplay and vulgarity among the military men Count Tomsky ( Samuel Youn ), Chakalinsky ( Kyle Van Schoonhoven ) and Sourin ( David Weigel ), who each goad/bully Gherman to pursue the Countess. Other vocal standouts in small roles include Elizabeth DeShong as Pauline and Jill Grove as the imperious Governess.

Puppetry director Chris Pirie also deserves props for the party divertissement sequence that ditches the traditional ballet for an amazingly life-like puppet show full of foreshadowing. In the hands of revival director Benjamin Davis, The Queen of Spades is gripping music theater ( even with its mishmash of visually styles ).

The Queen of Spades is also a remarkable piece of art created by two gay brothers at a time when society shamed them for their sexuality. So feel free to find as much symbolism over inescapable obsession and painful longing in the opera to make it all even more beautifully tragic.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Court Theatre reschedules The Gospel at Colonus to the 2020-2021 season 2020-03-31 - Chicago, IL - Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, announces ...

Gay News

THEATER Mourning Terrence McNally 2020-03-30 - The prolific Emmy and Tony Award-winning writer Terrence McNally passed away at the age of 81 in Florida at a Sarasota hospital on ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Teenage Dick 2020-03-27 - Playwright: Mike Lew At: Theater Wit ( on line streaming only ) Tickets:; $28. Runs through: April 19 In a ...

Gay News

Raven Theatre postpones world premiere of Eden Prairie, 1971 due to COVID-19 2020-03-26 - CHICAGO ( March 25, 2020 ) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raven Theatre today announced it will postpone its upcoming world ...

Gay News

Tony Awards to be postponed; no new date set 2020-03-25 - The 74th Annual Tony Awards—scheduled to air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7 from New York's Radio City Music Hall—has been postponed ...

Gay News

'Around Broadway' to honor high-school musical-theater students 2020-03-25 - Broadway In Chicago has announced its new social-media program, "Around Broadway in 80 Days." In the wake of the cancellation of The Jimmy ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Terrence McNally dies of coronavirus complications at 81 2020-03-24 - Terrence McNally—a four-time Tony winner who wrote musicals and plays such as Ragtime, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Full Monty and Kiss of the ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces 2020 Season 2020-03-24 - CHICAGO, IL ( March 23, 2020 ) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its 2020 Season, plus a move ...

Gay News

Broadway in Chicago updates changes in show schedules 2020-03-24 - (Chicago, March 24, 2020) The safety and health of our patrons, staff and theatrical companies is our top priority. In response to the ...

Gay News

World premiere of Notes & Letters postponed due to Coronavirus 2020-03-23 - CHICAGO ( March 23, 2020 ) — In response to the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic, Underscore Theatre Company today announced it will ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.