July 31, 2021

the bewitching “Golden Cock” by Barrie Kosky, burlesque and poetic apocalypse

This latest production of the rare Coq d’or, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), will have signed with brilliance the end of the fruitful mandate of Serge Dorny at the head of the Opéra de Lyon, an institution of which he has made, in eighteen seasons, a place of international culture hailed for its audacity, its eclecticism and its influence. State of play which in 2017 earned it the distinction of “best opera house” awarded by the International Opera Awards Londoners. It will now be necessary to follow across the Rhine the “fabulous destiny” of the Belgian, born in 1962 in Wevelgem, at the helm of the prestigious Bavarian State Opera in Munich, from next season.

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One can imagine the opera director’s lack of regret at leaving the capital of the Gauls, whose bad procedures thwarted his last months of office. After having cut in subsidies yet voted, the new green town hall left the situation of an occupied establishment to its reopening post-confinement to rot by a collective of activists, forced to cancel two performances of the Coq d’or, after the May 21 premiere.

Barrie Kosky delivers a work of great finesse, served by a detailed direction of actors and striking scenes

Everything went back to normal on June 2, when we saw this production. A backdrop of tall dry grass and mist, through which a winding path winds, a dead tree with tortured branches, a brass band: nothing more is needed to evoke the dark chaos that reigns in the court of Tsar Dodon . The kingdom is surrounded on all sides, but the sovereign aspires to only one thing, to stay in bed, to eat and to sleep. The piercing voice of the somewhat magician Astrologer, long beard, glasses and puffy black dress, sharpened curiosity for this incapable and ridiculous character, whom a Golden Rooster, supposed to raise the alarm, returned to his carelessness. and his nonchalance.

Darkness and poetry permeate Barrie Kosky’s inventive staging, offering real visions of a burlesque apocalypse, like this dark soldiery with a horse’s head, black stockings and garter belt, pawing and prancing at the slightest alert. Seconded by two sons as conceited, as jealous and incompetent as the other, that General Polkan tries to thwart, duly warned by the sung prophecy of the Golden Rooster, it will be necessary that Dodon go to war, perched on a strange disjointed wooden horse on wheels, spear in hand. A quixotic figure that seems out of the epic picture Guernica by Picasso.

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