Fantasy? Or political reality? Opening on Saturday, July 15, 2017, the Golden Cockerel poses that very potent question! What do you do when you're a pompous monarch and your advisors advocate war? You set off to battle posthaste —but when you encounter a beautiful foe, military plotting turns to lovesick sighing. In this exotic and tuneful tale, the exquisite Queen of Shemakha entices the bumbling Tsar Dodon, who proves that there's no fool like an infatuated man. In a world where kisses are weapons and deceit is delight, everything is buoyed up by the fantastic song of the Golden Cockerel. The music brims with signature sensual melodies, orchestrations, and razor-sharp wit, and the composer's musical affinities — foreign color, brilliant orchestration, scintillating harmonies, virtuosic writing — are expressed with a melodic freedom that could only have come late in his career.
This summer's stellar cast includes Venera Gimadieva as the Queen of Shemakha; Tim Mix as Tsar Dodon; Barry Banks as The Astrologer: Kevin Burdette as General Polkan; and Meredith Arwady as Amelfa. Conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, the production is directed by Paul Curran, with scenic design and costumes by Gary McCann, lighting design by Paul Hackenmueller, and projection design by Driscoll Otto. Our Santa Fe Opera Apprentices are under the direction of Chorus Master Susanne Sheston.
Composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov with a libretto by Vladimir Nikolayevich Belsky, this dazzling 1907 combination of fairy tale and political satire derives from Alexander Pushkin's 1834 poem «The Tale of the Golden Cockerel,» which is in turn based on two chapters of «Tales of the Alhambra» by Washington Irving. Banned by Tsar Nikolai II immediately after its completion for its provocative allegory, the opera's 1909 world premiere took place at the Solodovnikov Theatre.
Director Paul Curran notes that «Rimsky never lived to see it and died a broken man. The opera lives on...and it seems to me, every century or so, the tale of the Little Golden Cockerel survives to remind us just how unchanging our world can be.»
Co-produced by The Dallas Opera, The Golden Cockerel is making its first appearance on the Santa Fe Opera stage and will be sung in Russian, with opera titles in English and Spanish. The production runs 2 hours and 30 minutes; there is one intermission.
Production underwriting support has been generously provided by deeply appreciated gifts from The Tobin Endowment and James R. Seitz, Jr.