His bumbling sons manage to kill each other on the battlefield, and Tsar Dodon is taking charge of the army. However, the Golden Cockerel makes sure that the Tsar falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful Tsaritsa as soon as he lays eyes on her. The Tsaritsa plays along and performs a seductive dance, inviting the Tsar to consummate the relationship but he is just too clumsy. She now realizes that she can take over Dodon’s territory without fighting, and engineers a marriage proposal from Dodon. With the wedding festivities in full swing, the Astrologer reappears and reminds the Tsar that he has granted him a wish. But when the Astrologer demands the Tsaritsa, Dodon kills him with a vicious blow. Loyal to his master, the Golden Cockerel pecks through the Tsar’s jugular; the sky darkens and when the light returns, the Tsaritsa and the cockerel are gone. In the epilogue, the Astrologer again comes before the curtain reminding the audience that everything they saw was an illusion. The work premiered on 7 October 1909 with set designs by Ivan Bilibin. Regrettably, Rimsky-Korsakov was not able to see his opera on stage, as he had died at his Lyubensk estate on 21 June 1908.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel
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