Le Coq D'Or, aka The Golden Cockerel, is one of Rimsky Korsakov's best operas. The fairy-tale like story is really involving and magical, and the music- the most famous part being the Queen's aria Hymn to the Sun- with its many harmonic devices, leitmotifs and the triad juxtaposition is just as wonderful with a very Oriental feel. It is a very short opera, only about 105 minutes, and goes quickly, so much so that part of you wishes for even more. This production, directed by Ennosuke Ichikawa, is a treasure, one of those occasions where an opera production is a feast for the eyes and the ears.
Visually, the production is a stunner. The Kabuki-inspired costuming is the very definition of sumptuous, and the colours are very rich without being garish. The make-up is made up to look like the performers are wearing masks, and I found that effective. The settings while simple are just as lavish, giving that Oriental and exotic feeling. The staging is very like the sort of movement you'd find in Kabuki theatre, and again it added to the exotic feel of the story, and the numerous ballet sequences are pretty much the same.
Musically, I have no complaints either. The orchestra play with a lush yet powerful Russian sound you'd expect from Rimsky Korsakov(and Tchaikovsky for that matter), while the chorus are wonderful. Kent Nagano gives a reading that is light and flexible, yet also authoritative. The singing is superb, with no weak link. Barry Banks stands out as the Astronomer, his voice positively rings out and he cuts a commanding presence. Albert Schagidullin has a very rich voice that is perfect for Dodon, while Olga Trifonova's Queen Shemakha(Russia's answer to Turandot pretty much) is sung with spot-on colouratura and an icy acting ability.
In conclusion, dazzling in every way. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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