Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rimsky-Korsakov
LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: The Golden Cockerel
PERFORMER: Nikolai Stoilov, Lyubomir Bodourov, Emil Ugrinov, Kosta Videv, Lyubomir Dyakovski, Elena Stoyanova, Yavora Stoilova, Evgenia Babacheva;n Sofia National Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Dimiter Manolov
CATALOGUE NO: 10 760/61
As the last and altogether the best of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, The Golden Cockerel surely deserves a recording with a world-class orchestra, conductor and cast – as has happened with the comparable masterpieces of Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. Instead, Bulgarian national forces hold the Slavic fort bravely. Disappointment for lack of ‘stars’ is premature, since the score depends chiefly on vivacity and character, both human and supernatural. The famous 19-minute coloratura showpiece (‘The Queen of the Sun’s Hymn to the Sun’) is beautifully encompassed, and without a touch of strain, by Elena Stoyanova.

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The personages of the tyrant court are not unduly caricatured, with Nikolai Stoilov as King Dodon and Dyakovski’s very high tenor (the composer’s ‘tenor-altino’) as the grotesque Astrologer. Despite sacrifice in refinement of orchestral sound, the composer’s harmonic dazzle makes its point. In following the booklet, the barest English cues to the action (with cross-references in German to the Russian sung text) may just keep the listener afloat. Arthur Jacobs