Classic story aims for the heart

Opera in the park: Pique Dame

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Pjotr Iljitsj Tchaikovsky, Dutch National Opera

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Tchaikovsky’s opera Queen of Spades (Pique Dame)has been a popular success since its world premiere in St Petersburg in 1890, when it shocked many by exposing the darker side of society’s civilised elite. The Norwegian director Stefan Herheim – previously at the festival with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – is widely acclaimed for his unconventional opera stagings and spectacular productions. Herheim has transported the story to a recognisable, contemporary setting, with Mariss Jansons conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. This is an opera which aims for the heart.

Background information

The second Russian opera in the anniversary season of the Dutch National Opera is a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Pique dame (Queen of spades). It revolves around the obsessive desire for becoming rich through gambling.


Under the motto ‘What is our life? A game!’, the protagonist Herman stakes everything, thinking he knows a secret formula by which he cannot lose at cards. This is not the case, however, and Herman commits suicide. He thus becomes the third victim of his own gambling compulsion – after the old Countess, who was supposed to know the secret, and Lisa, who was in love with him. Pique dame has been a great audience favourite.

In his productions, director Stefan Herheim always brings the opera setting closer to current events, linking history to the present, which maximises the relevance of his work. Herheim has previously guested with DNO and the Holland festival with Eugene Onegin.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is led by its former principal conductor Mariss Jansons. This combination previously made a great impression with Lady Macbeth by Mtsensk and Eugene Onegin, and will now close the series of three great Russian masterpieces with Pikovaja dama. Misha Didyk is making his debut with Dutch National Opera as Herman. In the role of Lisa, Svetlana Ignatovich is making her return, following her great success as Fevronia in The legend of the invisible city of Kitezh.



Mariss Jansons has been conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra since 1988, and was its chief conductor from the 2003-2004 season until 2014-2015. In his long career, he has also conducted the Berlin, Vienna and London Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as the major orchestras in the United States. Jansons has been music director at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.



Dutch National Opera (DNO) is renowned for its diverse programming of both classical and modern operas and for the consistently high standard of its performances. Innovative productions, works especially composed for Dutch National Opera and a fresh approach to mainstream repertoire give renewed impetus to this superb art form and ensure its place in the future. With Pierre Audi initially as artistic director and now, following the fusion, as director of Dutch National Opera, the company has become a household name in the international opera world and every new production garners a high degree of interest. In 2013 DNO won the international Opera Award for the best production of the year. The company was founded shortly after the Second World War as a repertory company and later developed into a stagione company. This means that Dutch National Opera does not have a permanent ensemble and that one opera is staged per month on average. Guest soloists and separate artistic teams are engaged per production. Dutch National Opera does have its own choir, the Chorus of Dutch National Opera, comprising 56 members. The choir is considered to be one of the best in Europe and was nominated for the best choir performance of the year [International Opera Award] in 2013. For the majority of the productions DNO collaborates with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. The chief conductor is Marc Albrecht. Most DNO productions take place in the Dutch National Opera & Ballet; however, there are also performances in the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg, Royal Theatre Carré, the Westergasfabriek and Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ. The degree of international interest in DNO’s opera productions has led to an increasing number of requests to stage DNO productions at leading opera houses and festivals abroad. Co-productions are regularly realised with celebrated companies such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Opéra national in Paris and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.


The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world, due to its unique sound and stylistic flexibility. Mariss Jansons was welcomed as the orchestra's sixth chief conductor in 2004. Serving before him in that capacity were Willem Kes (1888-1895), Willem Mengelberg (1895-1945), Eduard van Beinum (1945-1959), Bernard Haitink (1961-1988) and Riccardo Chailly (1988-2004). The orchestra has its own in-house label, RCO Live. In 2013 RCO Universe was launched, an innovative online application with enhanced concert recordings for iPad and iPhone.



Pjotr Iljitsj Tchaikovsky
musical direction
Mariss Jansons
stage direction
Stefan Herheim
decor and costumes
Philipp Fürhofer
Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach
Bernd Purkrabek
Koor van De Nationale Opera
Ching-Lien Wu
children’s chorus
Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor
rehearsals children's chorus
Caro Kindt
Dutch National Opera
Christiaan Kuyvenhoven
Misha Didyk - Herman,
Alexey Markov - Count Tomski/Plutus,
Vladimir Stoyanov - Prince Jeletski,
Andrei Popov - Tsjekalinski,
Andrii Goniukov - Soerin,
Mikhail Makarov - Tsjaplinski,
Anatoly Sivko - Naroemov,
Morschi Franz - Master of Ceremonies,
Larissa Diadkova - Countess,
Svetlana Aksenova - Liza,
Anna Goryachova - Polina/Dachnis,
Maria Fiselier - Masja,
Pelageya Kurennaya - Chloë,
Olga Savova - Governess

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