There's not a sugarplum fairy in sight in Tchaikovsky's opera The Queen of Spades. Addiction? Yes. Obsession? Yes. Actually, pretty much every human weakness shows its wretched little head, but there are no scampering mice or nutcrackers. Instead, The Queen of Spades, presented by the Houston Grand Opera, is the tragic story of a penniless young soldier in love with an upper-class woman; he hopes that if he learns a legendary gambling secret, which only his beloved's countess grandmother knows, all his problems will be solved. Needless to say, this is a flawed plan. With the help of haunting sets, mixed-period costumes and creepy, life-size marionettes - not to mention star Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine, whom HGO director Anthony Freud calls "the most thrilling dramatic tenor of our time" - The Queen of Spades is a wonderful study of mankind at its worst. 7:30 p.m. today. Through May 1. Wortham Center, 500 Texas. For a full schedule, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.-houstongrandopera.org. $23 to $201.
Fri., April 16; Sun., April 18; Sat., April 24; Wed., April 28; Sat., May 1, 2010