Grange Park often succeeds best when at its boldest, and this new production of Tchaikovsky’s psychological roller coaster of a melodrama shows the company near the top of its game. It’s a big piece for a small house to mount, but apart from the dropping of the pastoral divertissement The Faithful Shepherdess in the ball scene, there’s no cutting of corners.
Anne-Marie Owens (The Countess), Quirijn de Lang (Yeletsky) and Carl Tanner (Hermann) in The Queen Of Spades at Grange Park, Hampshire (previous picture shows Anne Sophie Duprels as Lisa) Photo: Tristram Kenton
Antony McDonald designs and directs a staging that pushes the period of the piece near to the end of Tsarist rule, as opposed to the late 18th century that Tchaikovsky - who retained a sense of fidelity to his Pushkin source - intended. But visually the result works well, notably in the complex crowd scenes of the opening and in the hectic mayhem of the final gambling scene, where the card-obsessed Herman meets his fate. In between, narrative and characterisation are skilfully handled, even if Carl Tanner’s semi-crazed gambler feels physically too controlled - his singing, however, is of high voltage throughout.
He’s well partnered by Anne Sophie Duprels’s vulnerable, neurotic Lisa, sung right at the edge of the soprano’s technique, though always just within it. Also making their appreciable marks are Anne-Marie Owens’s touchy, haunted Countess, Quirijn de Lang’s immaculately sung and acted Prince Yeletsky, and Roman Ialcic’s bracing Count Tomsky.
There’s excellent work from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - new to the Grange Park pit - while conductor Stephen Barlow marshals his forces with enthusiastic panache, even if the ongoing dynamism of the score is not as yet fully realised. Overall, though, this is an appreciable achievement.