The Queen of Spades is one of Tchaikovsky's very best works, but while this performance is good, it is also not great. There are many great things to it. The orchestral playing is wonderful, and while plodding on occasions Valery Gergiev conducts with authority. The costumes and sets are sumptuous to look at. The singing is superb overall. Gegam Grigoriam is much better vocally than he was in Sadko, it has a powerful ring to it, it is more controlled and is capable of singing both lyric and dramatic effectively, strictly speaking Herman calls for both. Maria Guelghina also sings beautifully with high notes that positively soar, while Sergei Leiferkus is excellent both vocally and dramatically as Tomsky and Olga Borodina sings Pauline with sincerity and warmth. Ludmilla Filatova also sings with beauty and command as the crotchety Countess. Conversely, Alexander Gergalov's voice is too dry and lacking in resonance. More problematic was some of the acting, Leiferkus is the best of the cast on this front, but Gergalev is dull with little of the Prince's passion and eloquence and Filatova while sometimes sinister is too histrionic. The choreography that was so fabulous in the Bolshoi version especially is rather pedestrian here. All in all, good but not great, could have been better dramatically but musically there is very little to fault. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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