Gherman is your typical Russian soldier; young and not unattractive, poor, and pining for a beautiful woman whose name he doesn't know and who is above his station. He also has more than a passing interest in gambling, and why not? If he's not prepared to risk something, he'll never amount to anything. Fate steps in and provides him with his obsession's name — Lisa — and also supplies him with a gambit. Lisa's grandmother, the countess, is the legendary Queen of Spades, a former beauty famed for her mysterious and foolproof gambling system; she can't lose, and she also can't reveal the system or she'll die at the hands of the man with whom she shares the secret. Peter Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades features a libretto by his brother Modest, and one of the most physically demanding tenor roles. Union Avenue Opera presents Queen of Spades at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (August 20 through 28) at Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Boulevard; 314-361-2881 or www.unionavenueopera.org). Tickets are $30 to $52.
Fridays, Saturdays. Starts: Aug. 20. Continues through Aug. 28, 2010