Le Coq d''Or is in the way of being a folk opera parodying war in the context of governmental ineptitude. Following on from the fact that Rimsky-Korsakov was supremely successful in achieving this in this particular opera, this staging of his great work admirably succeeds in enhancing in spectacular fashion what he had set out to achieve. We have here a complex art work that synchronises music, painting, sculpture and ballet into a scintillating harmonisation of sound, colour, design and movement that epitomises the essence of the complexity of human relationships.
Yuri Maria Saenz as the cockerel interpreted the bird just as I've seen real cockerels behave. As she (as 'he') sang out the warnings I realised that Rimsky was obviously familiar with the way real cockerels sounded and behaved. This kind of thing is typical of the whole work, in which behavioural traits are theatrically enhanced into an ultra-reality epitomising the sheer silliness of human machinations masquerading as government. Here we have a timeless masterpiece parodying the pomposity of powerful people in every day and age. Good government needs to be more than the voice of a crowing cock seeking to impress a collective folly of herded hens.
The singers and dancers in this work are all outstanding in their roles. Olga Tritonova's coloratura performance as the Queen of Shemakha was impressive. It's just as if she's delighting in the role of making a fool of a besotted old man as he struggles to embellish his meagre talents in an hilarious attempt to impress her. I would imagine that Rimsky must have been a keen observer of the multitudinous follies of human behaviour. This opera, and especially this performance of it, is like observing ourselves through the multi-coloured glass of our own follies. In the end it's the weak-voiced wee astrologer (superbly acted and sung by Barry Banks) who makes fools of everyone except for Shemakha who is as wily as he is.
This work also shows how successful it often is when folk music is intertwined into operatic performances. It's also a vivid example of how futile it is to box art into different containers. Rimsky has managed to bring all the arts together in one scintillating performance. The sculptor's chisel, the painter's brush, the poet's inspiration, the story teller's imagination and the composer's noteworthiness are all here superbly acted, sung, designed, danced and performed. Conductor, orchestra, producer, director, designers, performers, dancers and stage hands - none of them could have done any better if they had tried. Although even in the best of performances one can mostly find a few weak points, I honestly can't find any in this one. If you have any kind of love for opera, or even for a good tale, just buy this one. It's the kind of performance that one can watch over and over again without becoming bored with it.. It's so true to life and brings us all down to earth causing us to realise we are never as good as we might think we are.