The golden cockerel | Zolotoy petushok
The libretto of The Golden Cockerel is based on the eponymous story by Alexander Pushkin. In Rimsky-Korsakov’s last opera the Astrologer tells the Russian story that contains a mystery and a lesson for life. Fairytale grotesques can be found in the oeuvres of nearly every Russian opera composer, offering as they do the opportunity to expose the ruler or ruling officials. The authorities reacted with bans and censorship, and The Golden Cockerel also had to be toned down after completion. The censored version was not performed until after Rimsky-Korsakov’s death. The ageing Tsar Dodon is under threat from many enemies and really only wants to live a life of idleness. His crafty Astrologer presents him with a golden cockerel which will crow loudly to warn him of any impending danger. Dodon goes to war and loses both his sons and his heart to an oriental queen with whom he returns home. As payment for the miraculous bird the Astrologer demands the beautiful queen. The Tsar beats him to death. But just as he is about to kiss the queen, the golden cockerel kills him. The mysterious oriental lady disappears with the miraculous bird and the people, left without a ruler, cannot agree how to proceed without the Tsar.