Vera Petrova - director's notes
20 Oct 2022Sofia Opera and Ballet

Vera Petrova - director's notes

In "The Queen of Spades", I was attracted by the general picture of a very interesting explanation that Tchaikovsky gives regarding the personal journey of the protagonist, Herman. He could be German, Hermann, Germain, no one knows what Tchaikovsky coded, but we try our best to find out. From there came our desire to enter a more fantastical world, one that lacks the card game, the passion, the love, the curse of everyday life, all the things we are usually used to seeing in "The Queen of Spades". Every archetype, every character in this production represents an entity –                 except for Herman. He is the only real character. He enters into a dreamlike state in which everything takes on a fantastical appearance, and every character he meets is actually a part of him that speaks to him – whether on a subconscious, conscious or superconscious level.

As we enter the field of the unconscious – here we work in Jung's terms – we find the part of our brain that is responsible for creativity, for fantasy, not for the rational, not the speech. Where music enters, we fall into what is called "deep silence." There, it is no longer the rational perception of reality that is at work, but its irrational perception, In fact, Jung, and for that matter the American scientist and writer Joseph Campbell, provoke us in exactly the same way - by exploring the fairy tale plot from the point of view of the protagonist, who encounters all kinds of primordial types, the so-called archetypes.

We haven't brought up-to-date the work, we haven't made it contemporary, we haven't looked for modern costumes or contemporary references. We are looking for the primal in human life. And the primal in human life is to fight your inner demons.

We all have these demons. I don't know anyone who doesn't have inner demons and fears. I have not been fortunate enough to meet so many enlightened people. There are people who are on the path and they are around us. People who are walking towards that enlightenment. But each one of us has our fears, our deaths, our loves, our demons and guardian spirits. Our inner world is very rich, it is saturated with an incredible number of entities. In the production, live people are playing, who have to represent these entities, and therefore for all of us, "The Queen of Spades" also represents our personal path.

The director is more of a unifier and provocateur, the conductor too. "The Queen of Spades" is a huge collective effort. It was very interesting and inspiring to work with the artists. The most impressive was when one by one they started to discover their own path, the one that everyone walks alone. It is hard to explain this journey in words. It is in the realm of the fantastic, and that is why I like that Dostoyevsky himself described this work as a model in the realm of the most fantastic.

We provoke each other. We have started from a base that is unfolding thanks to our artists – they are actively present and asking questions, maturing for their roles, entering their fantasy world. We have made a fantastic film.

According to me, Tchaikovsky was enlightened. He experienced his own demons, sank to the deepest vibrational levels and then ascended to the superconscious. He experienced the whole ladder from top to bottom and subsequently wrote brilliant music. This is the highest form of self-knowledge.

To this day, we have difficulty deciphering the title and message itself. The libretto of Modest, the genesis in Pushkin – they are saturated with many symbols, and these symbols enter the field of the unconscious, which stands within us as a deep genetic knowledge, as Jung says, and which provokes our fantasy. Tchaikovsky works with an enormous emotional amplitude. We all approach with great humility and respect – we offer a different view, our point of view.

We have no expectations, we are on a very interesting journey. It never ends, there is no last stop. There is another stop, because you have just reached the last stop and you say "I did it!" and a new path opens up in front of you, with new tracks, with new crossroads. Staging is the wheel of eternity, you've just decided that you've gotten to know yourself and you realize that you still have a lot of work to do with yourself.

"The Queen of Spades" for me is a catharsis, an encounter with myself. I have learned a lot, I am learning every day and I keep going. We are fortunate to have a profession that allows us to live much more intensely than other people, because we live many different selves, human selves, fantasy images. This is sometimes overwhelming and exhausting, but incredibly enriching.

We invite the spectators to experience a dream that is sure to speak to everyone in some way. We would very much like, myself and the whole team, for our audience to leave after the spectacle purified. This is our greatest wish – that they experience, feel and look at the reality outside, which is a big illusion, because the reality is within ourselves, and feel better.

Because this is the story of one person, in fact of each one of us.

Everybody has a story, right!