Radio stations will be blasting Domingo in Italian opera and Wagner today. But there’s a role I rather like him in that gets much less play: Herman* in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades. Aka Pique Dame, aka Pikovaya Dama, aka Пиквая Дама.
As Act III begins, Herman is reeling from his semi-accidental killing of the Old Countess, the grandmother of the woman he loves. (See, he was trying to learn her rumored secret of three winning cards, JUST so he could afford to marry Liza. He’s not obsessed with the cards or anything.) Since Liza practically caught him in the act, Herman’s understandably afraid she’ll hold the whole thing against him. But Liza’s caught up in her own obsession and sends a letter offering a second chance. Great! Except the Old Countess’s ghost decides to pay Herman a little visit of her own and she’s ready to talk card games. Wanna bet what happens next?
Hint: this is an opera by Tchaikovsky, based on a scary story by Pushkin. I’m not putting my money on a happy ending.
*The guy’s name is “German” with a hard G in Russian because there is no H sound in that language. (Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s name actually begins with a “Kh” sound in case you were wondering.)