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The Sunday Opera: Tchaikovsky's "Pique Dame" featuring Mirella Freni & Vladimir Atlantov

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The music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is being featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (2/18  3:00 p.m.) through two of his well-known and much loved pieces.  The program begins with the psychological drama “Pique Dame” (“The Queen of Spades”) and a recording from 1991.  Herman has two problems: he’s in love with Liza who is far above his station in life, and he is obsessed with gambling.  He learns that Liza’s grandmother is a countess who is known as The Queen of Spades because she knows a formula that always allows her to win.  

Herman seemingly becomes possessed by the idea of winning and does everything that he can to learn the formula and win Liza with tragic results.  In this recording, Herman is Vladimir Atlantov, Liza is Mirella Freni, and the Countess is Maureen Forrester.  They’re joined by Dmitri Hvorostosky, Katherine Ciesinski, and Sergei Leiferkus with the production featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Seiji Ozawa.  Host Michael Kownacky has planned more music of Tchaikovsky to follow with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, the somewhat autobiographical “Pathetique,” his last work which received its premier after his death.  The performance features the Moscow Philharmonic conducted by Johnterryl Plumeri