"But then there’s the Queen of Spades herself, in the mesmerizing person of Ewa Podle¶, who takes this good, if uninspired, show and breathes into it the air of mad operatic genius. If you’re already an admirer of this great singer (shamefully underemployed by the Met – nine performances over three decades), you’ll probably already own this treasurable addition to her still-too-skimpy discography. If you’re not yet a convert, try sampling a bit of her big Act II scene, where (in those haunting, still-potent Podle¶ tones) the sleepy Countess revisits her fabled Parisian past with a parade of titled personages ? the duke of Orléans, the duke of Ayen, the countess of Estrades?. "Those were names!" she deliciously asserts, and we believe her: with each one, she vividly evokes not just a person but her own sometimes venomous assessment of him or her."

November 2011

by Patrick Dillon