04 Jul 2007


The Golden Cockerel [Zolotoy petushok (Le coq d’or)], a dramatized fable with a prologue, three acts and an epilogue.

Music composed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908). Libretto by Vladimir Nikolayevich Bel’sky, based on Alexander Pushkin’s treatment of stories from The Alhambra by Washington Irving (rev. ed., 1851).

First Performance: 24 September 1909, Solodovnikov Theatre, Moscow.

Principal Characters:
King Dodon Bass
Prince Guidon Tenor
Prince Afron Baritone
Commander Polkan Bass
Amelfa, royal housekeeper Contralto
Astrologer Tenore-Altino
The Queen of Shemakha Soprano
The Golden Cockerel Soprano


The bumbling King Dodon talks himself into believing that his country is in danger from the neighbouring State governed by the beautiful Queen Shemakhan. He asks for advice from a mysterious Astrologer, who gives him a magic Golden Cockerel, which promises to look after his interests.

The Golden Cockerel confirms that Queen Shemakhan certainly has some territorial ambitions, so King Dodon foolishly decides to make a pre-emptive strike against the neighbouring State, and sends his army, led by his two sons, to start the battle. However, his sons are both so inept that they manage to kill each other on the battlefield.

King Dodon then decides to lead the army himself, but further bloodshed is averted because the Golden Cockerel ensures that the old king becomes besotted when he actually sees the beautiful Queen. The Queen herself encourages this situation by performing a seductive dance - which tempts the King to try and partner her, but he is clumsy and makes a complete mess of it.

The Queen realises that she can take over Dodon’s country without further fighting — she engineers a marriage proposal from Dodon, which she coyly accepts.

The final scene starts with the great Bridal procession in all its splendour - and when this is reaching its conclusion, the Astrologer appears and says to the king “You promised me anything I could ask for if there could be a happy resolution of your troubles.......” “Yes, Yes, “ said the king, “Just name it and you shall have it”. “Right,” said the Astrologer, “I want Queen Shemakhan!”. At this, the King flares up in fury, and strikes down the Astrologer with a blow from his mace. The Golden Cockerel, loyal to his Astrologer master, then swoops across and pecks through the King’s jugular.

[Synopsis Source: Wikipedia]

Click here for the complete score.

Click here for the complete The Alhambra.