New: Save your favorite arias, videos and singers!
Tell me more - Check it later - Not interested

The Queen of Spades Libretto
English Translation

Queen of Spades
Opera in three acts

HERMANN (tenor)
COUNT TOMSKY (baritone)
SURIN (basse)
NARUMOFF (basse)
THE COUNTESS (mezzosoprano)
LIZA, her granddaugther (soprano)
PAULINE, her friend (alto)
GOVERNESS (mezzosoprano)
MASCHA, maid (soprano)
MAJOR DOMO (tenor)

Promenaders, Guests, Masks, Gamblers

Place: St Petersburg
Time: First half of the 19th century
Spring in the Summer-Garden at St. Petersburg.

Nannies, nursery-maids and governesses are promenading or sitting on benches. Children are playing catch, skipping or throwing balls etc.

Shine, sun, bright!
Don't go out till night!
One- two- three!

Enjoy yourselves, pretty dears!
It is not often the sun
Is so warm and cheering, darlings.
If you can play your games
And pranks on your own,
Then poor old nanny
Can have a little peace.
So run about and keep warm, darlings,
And enjoy yourselves in the sunshine

Thank heaven
For a moment's peace
To enjoy the spring air
And look round a bit!
Not to be scolding and spending the time reproving
But to forget rebukes and punishments and lessons!

Lullaby, lullaby!
Sleep, darling, sleep sound
And don't open those bright eyes!

Behind the scenes can be heard the beating of a drum and toy trumpets

Here come our warriors, our little soldiers,
Aren't they smart?
Stand aside, there, stand aside!
Make room! one - two - one - two!

One, two, one two,
Left, right, left, right - all together.
Don't get out of line!

Dressing by the right -
one, two, halt!
Boys halt
Present arms!
Ground arms!
Boys carry out commands

We are here to fight the enemies of Russia.
The foe is wicked, be on your guard!
And his designs are criminal -
Flee or surrender! Hurrah!
It has fallen to our lot to save our country,
We shall fight and make countless prisoners. Hurrah!
Long live that great lady, our wise queen,
She is mother of all of us, empress, and pride
And beauty of our country. Hurrah.

Good work, my men!

Glad to have satisfied Your Worship.

Present arms! By the
right, quick march!

Ah! they're a fine lot, our soldiers.
And for sure they'll inspire the enemy with fear.
A fine lot indeed, and aren't they smart?

The other children follow the soldier-boys, offstage.
Nannies and governesses disperse, leaving the garden to the other promenaders.
Enter Chekalinsky and Surin.


How did the play end yesterday?

Needless to say, I lost badly!
I don't have any luck.

Did you play all night again?

Yes, I was so bored...
Devil take it! Can't a man win once in a way?

Was Herman there?

Yes, and, as always, riveted to the gaming table
From eight in the evening until eight the next morning,
Silently drinking.

Is that all?

He watched the others play.

What a strange man he is!

As though he had at least
three crimes on his

I am told that he is very poor.

He is certainly not rich.
Enter Herman, gloomy and lost in thought. Count Tomsky is with him.
Look, there he is.
Gloomy as a devil out of hell, so pale .
Chekalinsky and Surin pass on

Tell me, Herman, what is wrong with you?

With me? Nothing.

Are you ill?

No, perfectly well.

You have changed somehow...
As though you were discontented in some way...
You used to be reserved and careful, certainly,
But could be light-hearted too;
And now you are gloomy, silent
And - though I can hardly believe it -
They tell me that you have a new passion
And spend every night at the tables.

Yes, I no longer feel able
To continue my determined course to my goal,
I do not know myself what has come over me,
I seem to have lost myself.
Indignant with my own weakness,
I am no longer my own master
I am in love! in love!

What? you in love? with whom?

I do not know her name and may never learn it.
It is not by the world's name for her
That I wish to call her.
It beggars all comparison, I do not know its like...
My love's a state of heavenly bliss
That I must never lose!
But the jealous thought that she might be another's,
When I dare not even kiss her footprints,
Tortures me. I curse myself but to calm
My earthly passion,
And still I long to clasp her then,
To clasp the one I worship...
I do not know her name
And do not wish to know it!

If that is the case, we must get to work!
Learn who she is, make a bold
Proposal for her hand, and it's done...

Oh! no, alas!
She is of noble birth and can never be mine!
That is what riles and gnaws my heart!

We will find you another...
She is not the only girl in the world

You do not know me!
No, I can never forget her!
Ah! Tomsky, you do not understand!
I could only live peacefully,
While my passions slumbered,
Then I was master of myself;
Now, when I am in the power
Of a single dream, farewell, peace of mind!
I am poisoned, as though I were drunk,
I am sick, sick - I am in love!

Can this be you, Herman? I confess
I should never have believed
That you were capable of such a love!

Herman and Tomsky exit. Promenaders fill the scene.

Chorus of promenaders

At last heaven has sent us a sunny day!
What air, what a sky! It could be May!
What a delight it would be, indeed,
To spend the whole day here!
We shall not have another like it for a long time!

What a delight! What happiness!
How good it is to be alive,
How pleasant to walk in the Summer Garden!
Look what a lot of young men there are,
Soldiers and civilians, walking in the alleys!
Do look at them all, soldiers and civilians,
And how distinguished they are,
How handsome and attractive, look!

Life was better formerly, and such days as these
Were common every yearin early spring!
But now it's quite rare to have sun in the morning,
Things have got worse and it's really time to die!
Life was certainly better and gayer in those days,
And we did not think it a marvel
To see the sun shining.

Sun, sky and air,the nightingale's song
And the bright flushon the cheeks of the girls -
These are spring's gifts, and love too
Causes a sweet stir in the blood of youth!

It's many years since we had such weather,
But in the old days we had plenty of it,
When Elizabeth was on the throne,
That was a wonderful time
And all the seasonswere better!
Oh! it's a long time since we had such days...
Life was better and gayer in the old times.
It's long since we had such bright spring weather!

At last heaven has sent us a sunny day!
What air, what a sky! It could be May!
What a delight it would be, indeed,
To spend the whole day here!
We shall not have another like it for a long time.

Enter Herman and Tomsky

But are you sure that she's not noticed you?
I am prepared to bet that she's in love
And pining for you.

Without that comforting hope, do you suppose
I could bear my misery?
You can see that now
I am alive and suffering, but when the terrible
Moment comes and I realise that she
Will never be mine, then I shall
Have only one thing left...

And that?

Is death.

Enter Prince Yeletsky. Chekalinsley and Surin go up to him.

May I offer you my congratulations?

Yes, you're engaged to marry, I hear.

Yes, gentlemen, I am marrying.
A bright angel has consented to unite her fate
With mine for ever.

I am delighted to hear it.

And I too, from the bottom of my heart.
I hope you will be happy, Prince.

Yeletsky, my congratulations!

Thank you, my friends!


Happy day, I bless you!
How all conspires to exult with me,
On all sides I see reflected
The bliss of more than earthly life!
All is smiling, all is glittering!

Wretched day, I curse you!
This as though all conspired to cross my path.
All around is happiness,
But not in my stricken heart.
All is smiling, all is glittering!

How all my being thrills with thoughts of joy,
That beckon me to heavenly bliss!
O happy day, I bless you!

When in my heart I feel the thrill of hellish grief,
promising nought but torments,
no, nought but torments!

Tell us, whom are you marrying?

Yes, Prince, who is your bride-to-be?

Enter the Countess and Liza

pointing to Liza
There is the lady!

She? she to be his bride?
O God in heaven!

He is here again!

to Herman
So that is your Bella Incognita!


I feel afraid! There again he is,
That dark, mysterious stranger!

In his eyes a dumb reproach alternates
With a look of burning passion!
Who is he? why does he follow me?
I feel afraid, as though I were in the power
Of his eyes' sinister fire!
I feel afraid, afraid!

A fatal apparition, the prey of some wild passion .
What does he want, following me?
Why is he again in my path?
I feel afraid, as though I were in the power
Of his eyes' sinister fire!
I feel afraid, afraid!

I feel afraid! She is here again,
Like some fatal apparition, that sombre old woman.
In her eyes I read my own silent condemnation!
What does she want of me?
It is as though I were in the power
Of her eyes' sinister fire! Who is she?
I feel afraid, afraid!

I feel afraid!
Good heave;,,. how disturbed she seems!
Why this strange agitation?
There is some dumb fear in her eyes!
Their clear light is suddenly overclouded
By a stormy, change!
What is it? She does not look at me!
I feel afraid, as though some unexpected
Disaster threatened,
I feel afraid, afraid!

That is the girl he spoke of!
How disturbed he was by the unexpected news!
There is fear in his eyes, a dumb fear alternating
With a mad passion!
And she - how pale she is!
Ah! I feel afraid for her, afraid for her!
Count Tomsky goes up to the Countess
Countess, allow me to offer you my congratulations...

Tell me, who is that officer there?

Which? That one? That is Herman, a friend of mine.

Where does he come from?
What a fearful-looking man!

giving his hand to Liza
The bewitching beauty of the day,
The spring, the whisper of the light breezes,
The gaiety of the throng, my friends' kind wishes -
All promise us a long and happy future together!
They move off

Take heart, my friend,
Do not forget that after a calm day comes the storm,
And that the Creator mingled tears and happiness,
Sunshine and storm!
Distant thunder. Herman sinks, lost in gloomy thoughts, onto a bench

What an old witch, that Countess!

A scarecrow!

Yes, it was not for nothing that she was nicknamed
“the Queen of Spades“!
I can't make out why she has given up gaming.

What? That old thing? What do you mean?

An old hag of eighty! Ha, ha, ha!

So you do not know her story?

I know nothing!

Nor I!

Then listen to me!
Many years ago
In Paris the Countess was a famous beauty.
All the young men were mad about her
And she was known as "the Moscow Venus".
Count Saint Germain, who was then still a
Handsome man,
Was one of her admirers, but his sighs for the
Countess were unavailing!
The beauty spent her whole nights gaming
And alas! preferred Pharaon to love.
Once at Versailles at the "Jeu de la Reine"
The Moscow Venus had lost her last sou.
Count Saint Germain was among the guests;
Following her from the tables,
He heard her murmur in despair.
“O heaven! O heaven. I could recoup all my losses
If I could only have once morethose three cards,
Three cards, three cards"!
The Count, choosing cleverly his moment,
When, as she left unnoticed the crowded hall,
The beauty was sitting silent and alone,
Whispered amorously into her ear
Words sweeter than the sweetest Mozart:
"Countess, in return for a single rendez-vous,
I am ready, f you will, to name you
Those three cards, three cards, three cards"!
The Countess blazed "how dare you?"
But the Count was no coward.
And when a day later
The beauty was seen once again, alas!
Without a sou in her pocket at the "Jeu dc la Reine"
She already knew the three cards...
Playing them boldly, one after the other,
She won back her fortune, but at what a price!
O cards, cards, cards!
Once she told her husband those cards,
On another occasion a handsome boy learned them,
But on that very night, no sooner was she alone
Than an apparition warned her threateningly -
"You will receive your death-blow
From the third who, impelled by burning passion,
Comes to force from you the knowledge
Of those three cards, those three dread cards!

Se non è vero, è ben trovato!

Delightful! but the Countess
Can sleep quietly; it would not be easy
to find her a passionate lover now.

Listen, Herman! There's a perfect opportunity for you
To gamble without any money!
Just think of it!

From the third who, impelled by burning passion,
Comes to force from you the knowledge of three

They leave.
Heavy clap of thunder. The storm breaks.
Promenaders hurry off in all directions

How quickly the storm came,
Who would have expected it?
Each thunder-clap is louder
And more frightening than the last!
We must get home quickly!
Hurry to the park-gates!
Home, quickly!
Good heavens! O dear!

“You will receive your death-blow from the third
Who, impelled by burning passion
Comes to force from you the knowledge of
Three cards, three cards, three cards!"
What use are they to me,
Even supposing that I knew them!
My life is ruined now... and I stand alone.
The storm has no fears for me! In me all the
Passionsare aroused with such murderous force
That this storm is nothing in comparison!
No, Prince, while I live I will not surrender her;
By what means I do not know, but have her I will!
Storm, lightning, wind!I give my solemn oath
Before you -
She shall be mine, mine or I will die!

Liza's room. Liza at the harpsichord, with Pauline and her friends gathered round her.


"Tis evening ... the cloudy spaces darken,
The last ray, of sunset fades on the towers
The stream's last glittering wavelet dies
Beneath the darkened sky.
No sound … the woods sleep, all around is still,
Peaceful the grass beneath the weeping willow
And mingling with the stream,
The brooklet babbles beneath its branchy shade.
The heads scent of the foliage hangs in the cool air,
The stream laps soft and gently, against its banks,
The light airs breathe silently
Over the water, echoed in the bending
willow's rustle.

Fascinating! delightful! Marvellous! exquisite!
Amazingly beautiful!

Now you sing, Polya - by yourself!

By, myself? But what shall I sing?

Oh! please sing, anything you know,
Ma chère, darling, do sing us something!

I'll sing you a favourite song of mine.
Wait, now
seating herself at the harpsichord
How does it go?
she improvises as she recalls the song
Yes, that's it...
''My darling friends, playful and free from care
With dance and song you gambol in the fields!
Like you, I too once lived in happy Arcady,
I too among those glades and fields, in life's morning,
Tasted moments of gladness.
Love, seen in golden dreams, promised me happiness,
But what was tobe my portion in those happy spots?
A grave, a grave, a grave..."
I wonder what made me sing you such a
Melancholy song?
You, Liza, are already rather gloomy
Considering the day it is, just think!
You're engaged. just think!
And why are the rest of you all looking so gloomy
Let's have a joIly song, a Russian one,
In honour of the bridegroom and his bride.
Come on, I'll begin and you take it up!

Yes, do let's have a jolly Russian one!

Come on, bright-eyed Mashenka, dance and sing,

Ah! la la, la la, la la,
Dance and sing, dance and sing!

Put sour little white hands on sour hips,

Ah! la la, la, la, la, la,
On your hips, on sour hips.

Do not spare your twinkling feet,
do not spare them, dance away!

Ah! la la, la, la, lal, la,
dance away, dance away!

If mother asks you,
"I'm so happy" tell her, dear!

Ah! la ha, la, la, la, la,
"I'm so happy" tell her, dear.

But if father asks you, say
"All night long I was singing!"

Ah! la la, la la, la, la,
all night long I sang!

Should your young man start reproaching,
"Off with you!" say, "go away!"

Ah! la la, la la, la, la,
"Off with you!" and "Go away!"

The Governess enters

Mesdemoiselles, what a noise you are making!
The Countess has complained ... really, ladies,
Are you not ashamed to dance Russian-fashion?
What behaviour, mesdames!
Young ladies of your social standing
Must know what is proper and right!
You should inculcate in each other
The rules of society!
Only in the servants' hall, not here,
Is madcap behaviour permissible, mes mignonnes!
Not for you such wild behaviour!
Cannot you really enjoy yourselves without
Forgetting "bon ton"?
Country-dancing is not aristocratic!
You must repeat that truth to each other -
That young ladies of good society
Must know what is proper and right
And observe the conventions of their world!
It is time now to break up your party.
I was sent to tell you to make your adieux.
The girls begin to leave

Liza, why do you look so downcast?

Downcast, I? Not at all, just look what a
Beautiful night it is, and how everything
Seems new and fresh after the storm.

Now I warn you,
I shall complain about you to the Count
And tell him that on your engagement-day
You were depressed....

I beg of you, don't do that!

Well then, please smile at once.
That's better. And now, good-bye!

I will take you down!

They leave the room.
A housemaid enters and extinguishes all the lights except one.
As she goes towards the balcony to shut the door, Liza returns.

You need not shut the door, leave it open!

Don't catch cold, miss!

No, Masha, it's such a beautiful, warm night!

Shall I help you to undress, miss?

No, I can manage. You go off to bed!

It's getting late, miss...
You go off now and lease me!
Liza stands lost in thought and then begins quietly weeping
What am I crying for, what is it?
My girlhood dreams, you have deceived me!
This is how you have come true in real life!
I have entrusted my, life to the prince,
Chosen by me for his heart, his personality,
And his intelligence, his looks, his position wealth,
And worthy of a very different wife from me.
Who can compare with him in nobility,
In looks or dignity?
No one! And yet . . . here am I wretched and fearful,
Trembling and weeping!
What am I crying for, what is it?
My girlhood dreams, you have deceived me!
I feel oppressed and frightened!...
But why, delude myself?
I am alone here, all around me lie sleeping...
Oh! Hear me, night!
To you alone can I confide the secret
Of my heart! It is as dark as son,
Dark as the melancholy look of those eyes
That rob me of my happiness and peace of mind...
Queen Night! Like you, great beauty,
Like a fallen angel he is handsome,
In his eyes is the fire of glowing passion.
He beckons to me like some wonderful dream
And all my soul is in his power!
O night . . . night!

Herman appears at the door of the balcony, and Liza steps backward in dumb terror.
They gaze at each other in silence, until Liza makes a movement to go.

Stay, I beg of you!

Why are you here, mad man?
What do you want?

To say farewell! Oh! Do not go! Stay!
I myself am going in a moment,
Never to return here
One moment, stay!... What can it cost you?
A dying man implores you.

Why, why are you here?


I shall scream!

Scream then! Summon them all!
I am past caring whether I die alone
Or in the presence of others.
Liza lowers her gaze and stands silent
But if, pround beauty,
You possess but a spark of compassion,
Then stay and do not go!

Oh! heavens above!

My last hour has come, the hour of my death!
I learned today my sentence -
you are giving your heart to another, cruel one!
Let me die with blessings on my tongue for you,
Not curses.
How can I live a day longer when son belong to Another?
I lived for you: A single feeling and a single never
flinching thought governed my being!
Ms life is finished, but before I bid it a last farewell,
Let me spend just one moment alone with you
In the silence of the night and drink a deep draught
of your peerless beauty!
And with death, peace of mind
Liza stands looking sadly at Herman
Oh How lovely you are! No, do not move!

with faltering voice
You must go! You must go!

My beauty, my goddess! Angel of heaven!
he falls to his knees
Forgive me, loveliest of creatures,
For disturbing your peace,
Forgive me! But do not spurn
My passionate confession,
Do not spurn it with indifference!
Oh! Grant me leave, as I die, to utter a prayer to you:
Look down from your heavenly heights
Upon the mortal struggle of a spirit tortured
With love for ou, have pity, and warm my heart
With kindness, with a compassionate tear!
Liza weeps
You are weeping? You?
What do these tears mean?
You do not spurn me, you have pity?
I bless you for it!
My beauty, my, goddess! Angel of heaven!
Seizes her hand and kisses it.There is a sound of steps and a knock at the door

Liza! Open the door.

The Countess ! Merciful heavens!
This is the end!
The knocking at the door becomes louder, Liza motions Herman to the balcony-door.
Too late! this way!
He goes out on to the balcony, while she opens the door to the Countess.
She is in her dressing-gown and surrounded by maids with candles.

Why are you not asleep? Still dressed?
And what was all that noise?

I was walking up and down my room, grandmamma..
I can't sleep...

Why is the balcony-door open?
gestures that it should be shut
What ever has come over you?
Look at me! No more nonsense, now.
Go to bed at once!
striking the ground with her stick
At once, do you hear?

Yes, grandmamma, I'm just going.

Can't sleep indeed! Did you ever hear such nonsense?
What times we live in! Can't sleep', indeed!
Go to bed at once!

Yes, grandmamma - please don't be angry!

as she leaves
All this noise, disturbing your grandmother!
Enough! And don't ou dare to start any more Nonsense!
She goes

...he who, impelled by burning passion,
Comes to force from you the knowledge of
Those three cards, those three dread cards!
A tomb like chill breathes in the air!
O fearful apparition!
Death, I'll have none of you!
after closing the door behind the Countess, Liza goes to the balcony-door and signs to Herman to go away
O spare me!
A moment ago death seemed to me salvation,
Almost happiness!
But now no longer, it is a horror to me
You have opened to me a dawn of happiness,
I wish to live and die with you

What do on want from me,
What can I do?

Decide my fate!

Have pity on me, ou are driving me to distraction!
Go, I beseech you, I command rou!

So You pronounce
sentence of death upon me?

Merciful heaven! My resolution slips...
Go, I beseech you!

Then say it clearly, - "die!"

O God in heaven!

He makes a movement to go

No! Live!

takes her in his arms, she rests her head on his shoulder
Mv beauty, my goddess! Angel of heaven!

I love you!
I am yours!


Fancy-dress ball in the house of a rich government official. Large hall, with boxes for the spectators
erected between the columns. Young guests of both sexes are dancing contredanses, all in fancy-dress, while professional singers supply the chorus.

In joy, and merriment gather round to-day, friends!
Cast cares aside, leap and dance with all your hearts!
Clap your hands and click your fingers,
With black eyes glancing and proud figures dancing,
Hands poised elegantly on hips and feet airily, lifted,
Shoe striking shoe, boldly prancing and whistling!
The host and his lady
Bid his kind guests welcome!

The host asks his worthy guests to be so good as
To watch the display of fireworks.

Our Herman once again looks glum.
I wager you that he is in love,
One moment gloomy and the next merry.

No, gentlemen, he is under the spell
Of - guess, what!
The hope of discovering those three cards.

He really is an odd fellow!.

I don't believe it, such a hope implies an ignoramus!
Herman is no fool.

I have it from his own mouth.

In fun!

to Surin
Let's go and bait him!
they leave

All the same he is one of those men
Who will stick at nothing
Once his mind is made up.
Poor devil! poor devil!
The hall is cleared while servants prepare the middle of the stage for the intermezzo.
Prince Yeletsky and Liza enter.

You are so downcast, my dear,
As though you had some grief...
Confide in me!

No, later, Prince, another time ... I beg you!
makes as if to go

Wait one moment! I simply must speak to you!
I love you, love ou beyond all measure,
I cannot conceive a day without you,
I am ready to accomplish for our sake
A heroic task requiring matchless strength.
But he assured I do not wish in any way
To restrict the liberty of your heart,
I am rad to hide my feelings in order to please you
And master the heat ot jealousy,
I am ready to do an thing, anything for you!
I should like to be not simply a loving husband
Or sometimes a useful servant,
But your friend and always sour consoler.
Yet I see clearly and feel it now
How I allowed myself to be misled by my dreams,
How little trust you have in me, how alien and
How remote I seem to you.
Oh! I am tormented by this remoteness,
All my soul shares in your suffering,
Your sadness is mine. Your tears, I weep them too!
Oh! I am tormented by this remoteness.
All my soul shares in your suffering!

Liza and th Prince depart.
Enter Herman in fancy-dress but without a mask and holding a letter in his hand, from which he reads.

“Alter the pertormance wait for me in the hall.
I must see you!"
The sooner I see her and renounce this idea...
Three cards!
Learn the three cards and I am a rich man!
Then fly with her, away from all these people...
Hell and damnation! This idea will drive me mad!

The hall begins to fill with the returning guests, among them Chekalinsky and Surin.
They point to Herman, creep up to where he is sitting and bend over him, whispering.

Are not you the third who, impelled by
Burning passion
Comes to learn from her the knowledge of three cards, Three cards, three cards?

Herman starts up in terror, as though unaware of what is happening.
When he looks about him, Chekalinsky and Surin are already hidden in the crowd of guests.

Am I delirious or are they making fun of me?
No! And yet...
He covers his face with his hands
Mad, I must be mad!

The host asks his worthy guests
To listen to the pastoral entitled
“The Tender-hearted Shepherdess“!


The guests take their allotted seats, while a party consisting of the most handsome and distinguished women, girls and young men, dressed as shepherds, take the floor and perform suitable games and dances.

In the deep shadows
By the gentle stream
We have come today
To disport ourselves together,
To sing, to make merry and to dance,
To enjoy Nature's beauties
And to make wreaths of flowers!


My tender friend,
My darling shepherd,
For whom I sigh,
To whom I long to open my, heart
Ah! He has not come to join the dance

I am here, but sad and wretched,
See how I have pined away!
No longer will I be so modest,
So long have I concealed my passion!

My tender friend,
My darling shepherd,
How sad I am without you,
How I miss you,
Ah! I cannot tell,
I do not know why!

Long have I loved you, missed you,
But you know nought
And hide yourself
From my. sight,
I do not know why!

enters with his suite, bringing rich gifts
How sweet you are, my beauty!
Say, which of us two,
Him or me, are you willing to love for ever?

I have promised my heart
And mean to lose
Her whom my heart bids me,
Her for whom it burns!

Mountains of gold and precious stones
Are mine! I promise to deck you out
In them, I command a great mass of
Gold and silver and every bounty.

One thing is mine: a warm, unfeigned love!
Accept it for ever as a gift,
And instead of rich and glittering robes
I will bring you birds and flowers,
Ribbons and wreaths.

I need no lands
Nor precious stones,
I am ready to live with my love
In a hut in the fields!
So fare you well, good sir
And set your heart at rest!
to Milovzor
Haste to this solitude
To receive the reward
Of our gentle words,
And bring me a bunch of flowers!

Now is the end of our troubles,
The hour draws near
For love's delights -
Unite us, Love!

Amor and Hymen enter with their train and crown the young lovers
Now is the end of their troubles,
Bridegroom and bride.
Love earned love's delights,
And, love, unite them now!
The sun sparkles bright,
The zephyrs breathe gently.
And you, Prilepa,
Make merry with your handsome youth!

The performers go out in pairs.
At the end of the Intermezzo some of the guests stand up, others engage in animated conversation, remaining in their place. Herman moves to the front of the stage.

sunk in thought
“He who is impelled by burning passion...“
Well, and am I not in love?
Why of course ... I am!

Turning, he is confronted by the Countess.
Both tremble, gazing intently at each other.

Look, your lady-love!
laughs and disappears in the crowd

Again . . . again
I feel afraid!
And the same voice
Who is it? A demon or a mortal?
Why. do they, follow me?
Hell and damnation!
Oh! what a petty, laughable creature am I!
Liza enters, wearing a mask

Herman, listen!

It is you at last!
How happy I am that you have come!
I love you,
I love you!

This is no place for such talk...
It was not for this that I asked you to come here!
Listen! Here is the key to the secret door into
The garden ... there you will find the staircase...
And by it you go up to my grandmother's bedroom .

What? Into her bedroom?

She will not be there. In the bedroom by
The portrait is the door to my room...
I shall be waiting for you!
Oh! It is yours and yours alone I would be!
We must plan everything!
And now farewell until to-morrow,
My darling, my beloved!

No, not to-morrow,
No, to-night I shall be there!

No, darling

It must be so!

So be it then!
I am your slave! Farewell.
She is lost in the crowd

Now not I,
But fate decides,
And I shall learn the three cards!

Her Majesty is on the point of arriving...

In the chorus excitement runs high. The Major Domo marshals the crowd so that a space is left through which the Empress can make her way

The Empress! Her Majesty!
Here in person!
What an honour for the house,
And what delight for us, to see our Little Mother!
The French Ambassador will be with her!
This is indeed a real festivity
The Prussian Prince!
His Highness will also he

to the singers
Now thunder out the salute!

Thunder out the salute!
She is coming, she is here, she is here, look, look...
Our Little Mother, our Little Mother!

All turn expectantly towards the central doors.
The Major Domo gives the signal to the singers.

Long live Catherine.
Long live our tender Mother!
Long life to her! long life to her! long life to her!

The men make a deep court-bow, the women a low curtsey.
The pages in the royal suite begin to appear. The Empress enters.

The Countess's bedroom.
Herman enters by the secret door. He inspects the room

Yes, everything is just as she said...
Well, then? Am I perhaps afraid?
No, my, mind is made up,
And I will learn the old woman's secret!
He ponders a moment
And what if there is no secret?
And all this is but the vain delirium of my sick spirit?
He goes towards Liza's door, but stops beneath the portrait of the Countess
So, there she stands -
“la Venus Moseovite“! Some secret force
Binds our destinies together.
Which of us is the victim, you or I?
All I know is, one of us
Will be the other's doom!
I may stare at you and stare in hatred,
But mv eyes can never feast their fill!
I would escape, but do not have the power...
My searching gaze cannot tear itself away
From that terrible and fascinating face!
No, we can never part without a fateful meeting.
I hear steps. People approaching...
Then come what may...

He hides behind the boudoir curtain.
A maid hurries in and light the candles. She is followed by other maids and retainers,
and finally by the Countess herself, surrounded by maids and retainers who fuss round her.

And how did our noble benefactress enjoy herself?
The light of our eyes she is,
The little lady, and rest she surely must.
Is she tired perhaps?
Well, even so, none made a braver show than she.
Perhaps some there were younger,
But fairer none.
Liza enters followed be her maid Masha

No, Masha, you need not wait up!

How pale you are, miss!

No, it is nothing

guessing the truth
Gracious heavens! It can't be...

Yes, he is coming...
He may be already there and waiting...
Be on the watch for us,
Masha! Be a friend to me!

Oh! We shan't half catch it if they find out!

Those were his wishes.
I have chosen him for my husband
And am now his humble slave, faithful to him
Whom fate sent me!

The Countess is brought back by her maids and retainers.
She is in her nightcap and dressing-gown. They put her to bed.

The light of our eyes, she is,the little lady,
And rest she surely must.
Benefactress and blushing beauty!
Lie down, then, and to-morrow once again
You will be fairer than the dawn itself!
Rest, then! Rest!

Enough of your lying flatteries!
I am tired . . . tired out.
No, I will not sleep in the bed!
They seat her in a chair and prop her up with cushions
Oh! I hate the world to-day!
What times we live in!
People simply do not know how to enjoy
Themselves any more.
What manners! What a tone!
Better not to watch them...
They don't know how to dance or to sing!
Who are the dancers to-day?
Who sings? A lot of hoydens!
But in those days, who were the singers?
Who were the dancers?
The Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Ayen,
The Duke of Coigny...
The Countess d'Estrades,
The Duchess de Brancas . .
What names!
And even, on occasions,
The Pompadour herself!
I sang too in their company...
The Duke de Vallières praised me!
Once, I remember, at the Prince of Condé's at Chantilly
The king heard me!
I can see it all as though it were to-day...
“I dare not speak to him at night,
His words bear too much weight with me...
He says "I love you" and despite myself I feel
My heart beating and beating,
I don't know why it is!"
As though suddenly aware of her surroundings,
she looks about her

What are you doing standing there? Go away!
The maids and retainers leave on tiptoe. The Countess dozes and hums, as though in a dream.
“I dare not speak to him at night...

Herman enters and stands facing the Countess.
She wakes and, in dumb terror, mouths without making a sound.

Don't be frightened!
For God's sake don't be frightened!
I won't hurt you!
I have come to ask you for a single favour!
The Countess continues to stare at him in silence
You can make the happiness of my whole life!
And it will not cost you anything!
You know three cards...
The Countess raises herself in her chair
For whom are you guarding this secret?
Herman kneels
If you ever knew love's emotion,
If you remember the ardours
And raptures of young blood,
If you smiled even once at a child's caress,
If a heart ever beat in your breast,
Then I beseech you by the feelings of a wife,
A lover, a mother!
By everything in life that you hold sacred,
Tell me, reveal to me your secret!
What benefit is it to you?
Perhaps it is linked with some terrible misdeed,
With the loss of eternal salvation,
With some diabolical pact?
Think well,
You are old and have not long to live,
And I am ready to take your guilt upon me!
Confide in me!
The Countess draws herself up and glares threateningly at Herman
You old witch! I will force you to answer then!
He takes out a revolver.
The Countess nods with her head, raises her hands to protect herself from the shot and falls dead.
Herman goes up to the body and takes one of the hands in his.

Enough of these games!
Are you willing to name the three cards to me?
Yes or no?
She's dead!
It's all over and I never learned her secret.
He stands as though turned to stone
Dead! dead!

entering with a light
What is all this noise?
seeing Herman
You, you, here?

Hush! Hush!
She is dead.
And I never learned her secret!

Who is dead?
What are you talking about?

pointing to the body
It's all over! She is dead,
ånd I never learned her secret!

rushes to the Countess's body
Yes! she is dead. O God!
And it was you who did it?

I did not wish her death,
I only wanted to know the three cards!

So that is why you are here!
Not for me!
You wanted to know the three cards!
It was not I you needed, but the three cards . .
O God, O God!
And I loved him
And was ready, to ruin
Myself for his sake!
Monster! Murderer! Hellhound!
Herman tries to speak, but with a commanding gesture she points towards the secret door
Go! Out of my sight! Villain!

She's dead!

As Herman rushes out, Liza falls sobbing on the body of the Countess.


A barracks. Herman's quarter.
It is late evening and the moon shining through the window illuminates the room at one moment and then disappears. There is a howling wind. Herman sits at a table with candles on it and is reading a letter.

"I do not believe that you intended the Countess' Death.
I am tortured by the conscience of my guilt before you! Set my mind at rest!
I shall wait for you this evening on the embankment
When we shall be seen by no one.
If you are not there before midnight, I shall be
Forced to admit the terrible thought that Itry to drive
From my mind. Forgive me, I beg of you, but I am in
Such agony of mind!...“
Poor creature!
Into what an abyss I have dragged you with me!
Oh! If I could only forget it all and sleep!

He sinks into a chair, deep in thought, and seems to fall asleep

behind the scene
I pray unto God
To take away my heaviness of spirit,
For my soul is filled with foreboding
And I fear the imprisonment of hell.
Oh! look down on the sufferings of thy servant,
And give her life everlasting!

Always the same thoughts,
The same terrible dream and dark visions of the
Funeral rise before me as real as life .
What is that?
Chanting, or the wind's bowling?
I cannot make out...
Just as there... yes, yes, they are singing!
And there are the church, the congregation,
The candles and the incense, and the sobbing...
There is the bier and the coffin...
And in that coffin the old woman, motionless, lifeless...
Drawn by an unknown force
I enter by the black-shrouded steps!
I tremble, but have not the power to turn back!...
I look on the dead woman's face...
And suddenly, with a mocking grin, it winks at me!
Away, terrifying vision! away!
There ist a knock at the window. Herman raises his head and listens. The wind continues to howl.
Someone looks in at the window and then disappears. There is another knock. A gust of wind blows the window open and again a shadow appears there. The candle goes out.

It is terrifying! terrifying!
First, steps out there.... then the door opening...
No. No, I can't bear it!

(He runs to the door, but is stopped by the ghost of the Countess.
He stands back and the ghost approaches.

I have come to you against my will,
But ordered to fulfil your request.
Save Liza, marry her
And three cards, three cards, three cards
In succession will win.
Remember! Three . . . seven . . . ace!
She vanishes

with the look of a madman
Three . . . seven . . . ace!

A winter night beside a canal.
In the distance can beseen the embankment and the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul in the moonlight.
Under the arch, in a dark corner, stands Liza, dressed entirely in black.

It is close on midnight already,
But still no sign of Herman, no sign!
I know that he will come and clear away my suspicion.
He is the victim of circumstance
And could never, never commit a crime!
Oh! I am weary and worn out with suffering!
Ah! I am weary with sorrow...
Night and day only of him
I think and I worry...
Joy, where have you gone!
Oh! I am weary and worn!
Life promised me nothing but happiness,
Then came a cloud bringing the storm.
All that I loved in the world,
My happiness and my hopes were destroyed!
Oh! I am weary and worn!
Life promised me nothing but happiness.
I am worn and weary with suffering!
Anguish gnaws and consumes me...
And what if the midnight chimes answer
That he is a murderer, a seducer?
Oh, I am afraid, afraid!
The clock strikes from the fortress tower
O time, wait but a moment and he will be here .
In despair
Ah! darling heart, come to me, have pity, pity on me,
My husband, my, lord and master!
It is true, then! I have tied my life to a criminal!
Given my very soul to a murderer
And a monster, and for ever!
My life and my honour lie in his wicked hands,
By heaven's own decree
I share the curse upon the murderer!
She is about to go when Herman enters
You have come, you have come
And you are not a criminal!
You are here.
My agonies are over
And once again I am yours!
No more of tears, cares and doubts!
Once more you are mine and I am yours!
She falls into his arms


Yes, I have come, my, darling!
He kisses her

Oh! yes, my sufferings are over
And once more I am with you, my friend!

Once more I am with you, my friend!

Oh! the bliss of reunion!
The end of our sorrows and sighing!

Yes, the end of our sorrows and sighing!
What burdensome fancies they were,
What empty illusions and dreams!

Yes, empty, illusions and dreams!

Forgotten the groans and the tears,
I am with you again!
Our cares and our sufferings are over,
The bliss of reunion is ours,
O my angel, I am with you once more!

Forgotten the groans and the tears,
I am with you again!
Our sufferings are over for ever,
Our cares at an end,
My darling, my longed for one,
Once more I am with you!

But, darling, we must not delay,
time flies...are you ready? Let's go!

Go where? To the ends of the world with you!

Go where? Where? To the gaming-tables!

O heaven, what is the matter with you, Herman?

Piles of gold are waiting there for me,
And for me alone!

O grief! What are you saying, Herman? Think again!

Ah! I forgot, of course you are still in the dark!
There were three cards, do you remember,
That I still wanted to know from the old witch!

O grief! He is out of his mind!

Obstinate old bitch, she would not tell me them!
Well! today she paid me a visit
And named the three cards without any pressing.

That means that you killed her?

Oh no! Why should I?
I merely raised my revolver
And the old hag suddenly toppled over!
He bursts out laughing

Then it was true, then, true!
True, then, that I have linked
my fate to an evil-doer!
My very soul belongs for ever
To a murderer, a monster!
My life and my honour
Lie in his wicked hands,
By heaven's own decree
I share the curse upon the murderer!

Yes, yes,
lt is true that I know the three cards!
She told them to her murderer!
Fate willed it thus, and I was compelled
To commit a crime,
Only at this price could I buy
My knowledge of the three cards!

But no, it is impossible! Oh!
Think again, Herman!

beside himself
Yes! I am the third one
Who, impelled by burning passion,
Came to force from you the knowledge
Of three, seven, ace!

Whatever you may be, I am still yours for ever!
Let us go, come with me and I will save you yet!

Oh yes! I learned from you the secret
Of three, seven, ace!
He bursts out laughing and pushes Liza away from him
Go away!
Who are you? I do not know you!
Away! Away!

Oh! He is lost! Lost! And I with him!
She runs to the bank and throws herself into the water.

The gaming-tables.
A supper-party with a number of guests playing cards.

Drink and make merry!
Life is a game!
Youth passes quickly,
Age hurries on!
Drown youth's short summer
In wine, cards and pleasure!
Nought else gives happiness,
Like a swift dream, life's done!

at the card table
Make your bids!

Double or quits!


Double again!

Your bids, please!

Attendez! Ace!

I'm playing safe!
The Prince enters

to the Prince
How do you come to be here?
I never saw you gaming before.

No, it is the first time that I have ever been here.
You know, there is a saving "unlucky in love,
lucky at cards'....

What do you mean by that?

My engagement has been broken off.
Don't ask more.
I am too wretched, my friend!
It is for vengeance that I have come here!
Luckiness in love, you know, brings with it
Unluckiness at play...

Do explain what you mean!

You will see!

Well, gentlemen,
What about a song from Tomskv?

Come on, Tomskv, sing us something rousing,
With a laugh in it!

I don't really, feel like singing

Oh! Come on, that's nonsense!
Have a drink and you will soon be in the mood!
Friends, I drink to Tomsky's health! Hurrah!

Tomsky's health! hurrah!

If darling girls could fly, like birds
And perch upon the boughs,
I'd like to be a little bough,
Where myriad girls could find a perch
Among mv twigs.

Bravo! bravo!
Go on, give us another verse!

I would have them perch and sing,
Build their nests and, twittering,
Rear their nestlings undisturbed!
I would never bend or break, but
Feast my eyes upon the darlings,
Be the happiest of all boughs!

Bravo! bravo!
That's what I call a song!
Bravo! Jolly good show!
"I would never bend or break,
But feast my eyes upon the darlings,
Be the happiest of all boughs!"

And now, friends, following tradition, a gaming song!

When the weather was wet,
They often met
And, God, forgive them,
They doubled their bids
From fifty, to a hundred
They wonand they kept their
Scores with chalk...
So, when the weather was wet,
They kept themselves busy with play...
And, God, forgive them,
They doubled their bids
From fifty to a hundred.

And now, gentlemen, to business - to the tables!
Heigh, there, wine!

Heigh, there, wine!


I double...

No go!

I bid on the same again...


Transfer me to ten!
Herman enters

seeing Herman
My foreboding did not deceive me.
to Tomsky
I may be needing a second.
You will not refuse?

Rely on me!

Well, friend Herman!
You are very late. Where have you been?

Come and sit here.
You will bring me luck.

Where have you been?
Where do you come from?
Could it be hell, perhaps?
But what a sight you are?

Couldn't look more awful! Are you ill?

I want to make a bid.

Wonders will never cease,
our Herman has started punting!

I congratulate you, my friend,
on breaking your long fast!

How much?

Forty thousand!

Forty thousand!
That's some stake!
You must be mad!

Perhaps you learned the Countess's secret of
The three cards?

Well, do you accept my bet or not?

Certainly! What card?

A three!
Chekalinsky deals
A three it is!

He's won! Lucky beggar!

There's something wrong here!
The wild look in his eye bodes nothing good,
He seems but half aware of his surroundings!

There's something wrong here!
But near and still nearer comes his punishment!
I will take vengeance on you, villain,
for my sufferings, I will have vengeance on you!

My cherished dream is coming true.
No, no! The old woman's prophecy
Was not deceptive!

There's something wrong here!
The wild look in his eye bodes nothing good,
He seems but halt aware of his surroundings!

Will you take up your winnings?

No! I am still bidding!

He's mad? Can he mean it?
No. Chekalinsky, don't go on playing with him,
You can see for yourself that there is something
The matter with him!

Does the game go on?

It does. And the card?

A seven!
Chekalinsky deals
I've won!

He's won again
There's something suspicious about all this!

Why, do you look so glum?
Are you frightened? Frightened?
Heigh there, wine!

Herman, what's up with you?

What is our life? A game!
Good and evil - no more than dreams!
Work and honour - old wives' tales!
Which of you here, my friends, is right or happy?
To-day it's you, to-morrow I!
So leave your struggles, and seize upon
The moment of success!
Let the loser weep, cursing his fate!
What is true? Death alone,
The shore of life's vain sea,
Has one single refuge for us all.
Which of us is love's favoured one, my friends?
To-day it's you, to-morrow I!
So leave your struggles, and seize upon
The moment of success!
Let the loser weep, cursing his fate!
No more play?

No, take up your winnings!
You seem to have the devil himself on your side!

If that's the case, what a pity!
No takers-on?
All this on a single card? Well?

I'll take you on!

Prince, what's wrong with you? Stop!
This is not play, but lunacy! Wait!

I know what I am doing!
He and I have an account to settle!

You! You take me on?

I do!
Deal, Chekalinsky!
Chekalinsky deals

My ace!

No, your queen is covered!

What queen?

The one you are holding in your hand -
the Queen of Spades!

The Countess's ghost appears. All stand back from Herman.

Old witch! You! You here!
What are you laughing for?
You drove me out of my mind.
A curse upon you!
What's that? What do you want?
A life?
My, life? Take it, then, take it!

He stabs himself. The ghost vanishes.
A number of the guests rush to the prostrate Herman.

Poor wretch!
What a terrible end he has made of himself!
No, he's alive, still alive!

Herman recovers consciousness. Seeing the Prince, he tries to raise himself.

Prince! Prince, forgive me!
I am in agony, in agony! Dying!
Who is that there? Liza? Oh! God!
Why? Why? And you forgive! Yes?
And do not curse me?
Ah! How I love you, my angel!
My beauty! My, goddess!
he dies

Lord! pardon him!
And give rest to his
Turbulent troubled spirit!