THE PEAK LADY
Opera in three acts (seven paintings)
Libretto by M. I. Tchaikovsky
The Prince Yeletsky
Petersburg. In the sunlit alleys of the
Ball-masquerade in the house of a rich capital dignitary. Prince Eletsky, alarmed by the coldness of the bride, assures her of his love and devotion. Among the guests Herman. The disguised Chekalinsky and Surin continue to play a trick on their friend; their mysterious whispering about magical cards depressingly affects his frustrated imagination. The performance begins – the pastoral “The Sincerity of the Shepherdess.” At the end of the presentation, Herman encounters the old Countess; again the idea of wealth, which three cards promise, takes possession of Herman. Having received the keys from Liza from the secret door, he decides to find out from the old woman a secret.
Night. Empty Countess bedroom. Herman enters; he looks with excitement at the portrait of the Countess in his youth, but, hearing the approaching steps, hides. Accompanied by the larvae returns Countess. Dissatisfied with the ball, she surrenders to the memories of the past and falls asleep. Unexpectedly, Herman appears before her. He begs to reveal the secret of the three cards. But the old Countess is silent. Enraged Herman threatens with a gun; the frightened old woman falls dead. Herman is in despair. Close to insanity, he does not hear the accusations of Liza coming to the noise. Only one thought possesses him: The Countess is dead, and he did not recognize the secrets.
Herman’s room in the barracks. Late evening. Herman re-reads Lisa’s letter reverently: she asks him to come at midnight for a date. Herman again experiences what happened, in his imagination there are pictures of the death and funeral of the old woman. In all the wind he hears the funeral singing. Herman embraces horror. He wants to run, but he imagines the Countess’s ghost. She calls the treasured cards: “Three, seven, ace.” Herman repeats them like delirium.
Winter groove. Here Lisa must meet with Herman. She wants to believe that the beloved is not guilty of the death of the Countess. The tower clock strikes midnight. Lisa loses her last hope. Finally appears Herman. Embraced by the maniacal idea of winning, he mechanically repeats words of love behind Liza. From his incoherent story Lisa is horrified to be convinced that he is the murderer of an old woman. In a fit of insanity Herman pushes Lisa away and with a cry: “To the gambling house!” – runs away. In despair, Lisa throws herself into the water.
Gambling house. There is a game. Herman one after another puts two cards, called the Countess, and wins. Everyone is stunned. Armed with victory, Herman puts the entire winnings at stake. The challenge of Herman is taken by Prince Yeletsky. Herman announces an ace, but instead of an ace in his hands is the lady’s peak. In a frenzy he looks at the map, in it he sees the devilish grin of the old Countess. In a fit of insanity, he ends up with himself. At the last minute in the minds of Herman there is a bright image of Liza. With her name on her lips, he dies.