Queen of Spades, Canada Square, 18th June 2002

From: Josh
Category: Other stuff
Date: 19 June 2002


Every now and then London offers something beautiful at no cost: Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades relayed live from the Royal Opera House on a big screen in Canada Square, Canary Wharf was such an occasion. Placido Domingo plays Gherman, the impoverished soldier who loves aristocratic Liza, seeks entry in to the elites of the St Petersburg court, but whose real passion is gambling. Convinced he will realise his fortune and thus everything else after learning of a magical three card combination he risks everything in a final poker game with inevitably tragic consequences.

The Opera is superb, but the setting, with the three massive sky scrapers of the Wharf creating a surreal corporate open air theatre, was perfect for Pushkin's tale of avarice. Around us, African immigrants picked up our litter, bankers stood nervously watching at the back, mobile phones to their ears, wondering how long they could break before getting back to the office, and the middle classes chattered and drank cheap wine. As the sky turned from blue to black the opera grew in intensity and the towers of the wharf flooded with a thousand little neon lights. A single figure watched from the 50th floor.

And then we left and got lost in the underground Canary Wharf mall, which like everything else here seemed to be made out of chrome metal, and our eyes grew large and greedy at the site of all the nice clothes...

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