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Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, performed in its original Russian in Brussels (2016), is a hit in Laurent Pelly’s production. Pelly shies away from neither the entwined humour nor the political satire, and provides all of the staging’s coups as required: the cockerel is a magnificent creature. Set on what appears to be a slag heap, Tsar Dodon remains in his bed almost throughout, even when it’s transformed into a military tank, wherein he’s joined by the Tsaritsa of Shemakha, before being pecked to death by the fowl, his instrument of ruin manipulated by the Astrologer, who ultimately informs the audience that only he and the Tsarita were real. As Pelly says, it’s ‘an indictment of autocracy, despotism and stupidity’. Ring any bells? Pavlo Hunka offers a tour de force as Dodon, holding attention even when sleeping. As the Tsaritsa, Venera Gimadieva slithers seductively through her coloratura, and Alexander Kravets just about manages the tenor altino heights of the Astrologer by resorting to falsetto. Alain Altinoglu’s conducting relishes the colourful score.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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