The Golden Cockerel

March 10, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS | 0 Comments |

By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov/ Directed by Barrie Kosky (Adelaide Festival, 9 March 2022)

Pushkin’s slight morality fable of the idiocy of war-mongering autocracy (1835) was taken up (1907) by Rimsky-Korsakov as a reflection of the faltering reign of Tsar Nicholas II, who made Joe Biden seem like Pericles.

The so-called dark wit, surreal burlesque, and satirical messaging is, regrettably, lost in this production. A colossal, over-extravagant Russian in-joke makes a not very good opera…and Mr. Kosky has, with his peculiar genius, turned it into an excruciating, absurdly repetitive, extended Monty python skit (we recalled Terry Gilliam’s filler cartoons from that series). The dancing, whilst impressive, recalls You Can’t Stop the Music. The staging, again quite impressive, is redolent of a Beckett play. And the sundry macabre touches would complement a Hammer horror film.

You couldn’t seriously fault the stars: British-Ukrainian Pavlo Hunka, and Russians Venera Gimadieva and Andrei Popov, or the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under Arvo Volmer. But it really is time to stow directorial over-ambition that turns minor works into travesties. As we find at the conclusion of the opera, it was all a dream. As Merlin would say, “A dream to some. A nightmare to others.”

REVIEW: The Golden Cockerel at Adelaide Festival - Matilda Marseillaise


Co-production with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Adelaide Festival, Opéra National de Lyon and Komische Oper Berlin in association with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.


Tsar Dodon Pavlo Hunka
Queen of Chemakha Venera Gimadieva
Astrologer Andrei Popov
Tsarevich Aphron Samuel Dundas
Tsarevich Gvidon Nicholas Jones
Polkan Mischa Schelomianski
Amelfa Alexandra Durseneva
Golden Cockerel’s Voice Samantha Clarke
On-Stage Cockerel Matthew Whittet

Dancers Sam Hall, Chris Mills, Rowan Rossi, Loci Walmsley


Conductor Arvo Volmer
Director Barrie Kosky
Associate Director Denni Sayers
Assistant Director Eugene Lynch
Stage Designer Rufus Didwiszus
Costume Designer Victoria Behr
Lighting Designer Franck Evin
Choreographer Otto Pichler
Assistant Costume Designer Nathalie Pallandre
Assistant Choreographer Joseph Gebrael
Makeup & Wigs Assistant Marie Jardine
Assistant Lighting Designer Laurent Quain
Technical Director Fred Amiel
Head of Stage Mado Cogne
Language Coach Maria Timofeeva
Russian Translator Nadejda Levings

For Adelaide Festival
Producer Tess Appleby (until Dec 2021)
Producer Janelle McKenzie (from Jan 2022)
Program Assistant Amanda Ashley
Production Manager David McLean
Stage Manager Jess Nash
Assistant Stage Managers Emily Barraclough, Jess Wolfendale
AC Arts Secondment Dylan McBurney
Head of Wardrobe Kathleen Szabo
Fittings, Alterations and Maintenance Ashleigh Thomas
Costume Cutters / Maintenance Enken Hagge, Martine Micklem
Dressers Nadejda Levings, Sally-Jayne Chapman, Anna Perry, Nick de-Rohan, Kent Green, David Adams, Wendy Todd, Chris Rektsinis

Head of Wigs and Make Up Jana DeBiasi
Wigs and Make Up Matthew Ping, Teresa Scriva, Beverly Freeman, Dina Giaccio, Natasha Stone, Danielle Veltmyer, Charlotte Wilson, Kat-Arena Lean, Natasha Keneally, Jennifer Rossiter, Megan O’Mahoney, Sam Dawe, Marie-lyn Morant, Sharon Hage, Dominique Keeley
Head of Props Ashley Ng
Surtitles Catriona Herriott

Shades of Ukraine: Tsar Dodon encounters Shemakha


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