Behind the noble façade of the St. Petersburg palace of the now-decrepit “Musocovite Venus,” all is not well. Her granddaughter has succumbed to a penniless gambler, whose obsession threatens the old countess’s very life. Long a rarity outside Russia, Tchaikovsky’s hair-raising ghost story has won its place in the international canon fair and square. The music is a marvel, teetering between Mozartean grace and inner turmoil that swirls and surges like a maelstrom. Incredibly, Graham Vick’s new production for the Deutsche Oper will be the company’s first. The director has a wild and crazy streak (as in his savage Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for the Metropolitan Opera) but also an unshakeable old-school respect for storytelling. Both are of the essence in material as densely novelistic as this. Sondra Radvanovsky, lately preoccupied with Donizetti’s Tudor queens, sings the doomed young Liza. Martin Muehle appears as Gherman, who breaks her heart. Half a century into her distinguished career, Hanna Schwarz brings to the pivotal role of the Countess the quality the matters most: an unerring instinct for the theater. Sebastian Weigle conducts. —M.G.
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