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The Golden Cockerel

Spring 2022


Spring 2022

Fantasy, mischief and musical delight combine in our lively new production of The Golden Cockerel, the final and favourite opera of Rimsky-Korsakov.

Based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, the opera is packed with the exotic orchestration that has made similar works such as Scheherezade so popular. A daring satire on the last days of the Romanov empire, and in particular the debacle of the Russo-Japanese War, The Golden Cockerel is as explosive as it is charming.

Led by our new Music Director Gerry Cornelius and ETO Director James Conway, the cast stars Grant Doyle (who most recently appeared in our 2019 production of Verdi's Macbeth) in the role of the sleepy Emperor Dodon.

  • 4 Stars

    The Guardian

  • 4 Stars

    This whimsical tale lands a deft political blow

    The i Paper



An Astrologer advises though what will follow is a tale from long ago, it will have a moral relevant to today.

Act I

King Dodon believes that his country is in danger from a neighbouring state. His sons offer conflicting advice on tactics, to the disgust of his general.

An Astrologer appears, offering the gift of a strange Cockerel of Gold, who will cry out when danger is near. The delighted Dodon offers the Astrologer any reward he cares to name – and the Astrologer asks for an IOU which he can redeem at a later date.

Dodon has some sweets and a nap, tended by his Nanny, Amelfa.

The Cockerel cries danger, and the General confirms that the enemy approaches. Dodon sends the army into battle, led by his two sons.

Act II

The army has been laid waste on the battlefield. Dodon’s two sons manage to kill each other in the confusion. As Dodon prepares to lead the remaining forces – and as he watches the great cannon splutter - a tent is seen. From the tent emerges the Queen of Shemakha, Dodon’s beautiful foe. Her erotic song, and his not very erotic dance, induce King Dodon to propose marriage to her – and realising that she can thus take over Dodon’s country without a fight, she accepts.


The citizens are anxious about the consequences of the war.

The King and Queen arrive in curious splendour to celebrate their wedding.

The Astrologer arrives, and calmy claims his prize: the Queen of Shemakha. The petulant Dodon strikes dead the Astologer; the vengeful Cockerel pecks Dodon to death.

It is suddenly dark; when the light returns, the Cockerel and Queen are gone.


The Astrologer reminds the audience that the story was an illusion – but that he and the Queen alone were real people!