Royal philharmonic orchestra

Pitch-black satire drenched in an atmosphere of compelling unease: ETO’s Golden Cockerel reviewed

Blame it on Serge Diaghilev. Rimsky-Korsakov died in 1908 and never saw the première of his last opera, The Golden Cockerel. When the great showman finally presented it in Paris in 1914, it was as Le Coq d’Or: a spectacular opera-ballet hybrid, with colourful, folk-inspired designs by Natalia Goncharova that came to define the Ballets Russes in its imperial phase. That was the form in which it came to Britain, where the Evening Standard described it as a ‘farrago of love-making, black magic and ingenuous inconsequence’ before turning to the real news – the costumes. And that’s the basic impression – a fabulous but flimsy slice of Slavic exotica –