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Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-108)
The Golden Cockerel, Opera in three acts
Tsar Dodon…Vladimir Feliauer
Tsarevich Guidon… Andrei Ilyushnikov
Tsarevich Afron…Vladislav Sulimsky
General Polkan…Andrei Serov
Amelfa, the housekeeper…Elena Vitman
The Astrologer…Andrei Popov
The Queen of Shemakha…Aida Garifullina
The Golden Cockerel…Kira Loginova
Artists of the Mariinsky Chorus, Ballet and extras
Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Filmed at Mariinsky –II, St. Petersburg, 27 December 2014
Double play DVD package: contains Blu-ray and DVD discs
Subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish
Video format Disc 1 Blu-ray: BD5O (all regions) 16.9 HD 1080i (NTSC)
Disc 2 DVD: DVD9 (region 0) 16.9 (NTSC)
Audio formats: 24 bit 48KHz, 2.0 PCM stereo
Reviewed as Blu-ray / Stereo
MARIINSKY MAR0596 Blu-ray/DVD [119 mins]

This production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera is colourful, funny with some outrageous costumes and one outstanding singer but, for this reviewer, it is far too clever, clever. It’s so complicated it gets lost in its own deceits. In the end I gave up and just sat back relaxed and enjoyed the silliness, the satire and the spectacle. Goodness knows what the audience, with a significant attendance by children, made of it.

The astrologer/magician who tells and manipulates the story appears in modern dress. You might think that he looks like a powerful Russian politician of today, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Andrei Popov makes a good fist of the impossibly high-note delivery he is called upon for his role. This production’s golden cockerel is a shapely mini-skirted teenage girl with a black cloche-like hat and equipped with the essential smart mobile phone she constantly uses to photograph all the characters. She wears a backpack so fashioned that it is, itself, the golden cockerel. The Tsar’s and his quarrelsome sons’ costumes are of pantomime proportions with huge, ridiculously immense hats. Tsar Dodon, is bluntly portrayed as an oaken but rather ridiculously authoritarian figure by Vladimir Feliauer His ludicrously stuffy inept sons are sung unremarkably as might be expected in-character. Only the long-suffering General Polkan, sung with condescension and exasperated mock bravado, by Andrei Serov, seems to have some sense of reality.

Act I set in the royal palace is brightly lit with characters placed in tiers and the bemused girl/cockerel sat beneath them all. Act II set in the ravine where the defeated Tsar’s armies have fallen, has a shadowy-slithery, misty sort of atmosphere befitting the dwelling of the seductive, spellbinding Queen of Shemakha who seduces and enslaves poor Dodon. She herself, is a blonde long-haired siren in a voluptuous, red short-skirted dress. The lighting and sound design is most atmospheric. This act belongs to Aida Garifullina who is easily the star of this production, carrying off her long sinuous, sensual, tempestuous captivation of Dodon with zealous aplomb. Act III scene set back in Dodon’s city, has a garish coloured appearance for the Queen’s entrance with her freaks and the humiliated and abjectly debased Dodon.

Orchestra and chorus are good but not outstanding. The chorus seem not to be in tune with the spirit and meaning of this production. Gergiev, too, might also seem abstracted about this Cockerel; for here he does not figure in the same league as he did with his earlier Russian operatic forays.

Ian Lace

Previous review: Simon Thompson



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