Adelaide Festival announces the triumphant return of Australia’s most celebrated international opera director Barrie Kosky with his latest masterpiece, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel. The opera will form the dazzling centrepiece of the 2022 Adelaide Festival.
Kosky has previously directed two sell-out Adelaide Festival opera events: Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s production of Saul in 2017 and Komische Oper Berlin production of The Magic Flute in 2019.
Adored for the startling vision he brings to familiar classics, Kosky’s extraordinary dreamscape production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel has already been rapturously received in France, where it played sell-out shows at the 2021 Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence.
Premiering in 1909, it has become a key work of the European operatic repertoire. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov conceived The Golden Cockerel over the terrifying din of the 1905 revolution.
Described as the summation of his craft, the opera is half surreal fairy-tale, half political satire, but fell foul of Tsarist censors and Rimsky-Korsakov died with the voluptuous score of his imagination unheard.
“Political satire, sardonic humour and surreal burlesque, The Golden Cockerel is an opera tailor-made for Barrie Kosky,” said Joint Artistic Director Rachel Healy.
“It’s wonderful to again be co-producing with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and it was thrilling to witness French audiences return to the theatre with such gusto and excitement when The Golden Cockerel opened at the magical Théâtre de l’Archevêché in July. We can’t wait to bring the same experience to Adelaide Festival audiences in March 2022.”
“We have been hounded by festival audiences to bring back Barrie!” said Joint Artistic Director Neil Armfield. “His operas have such immediate appeal to young audiences and opera first-timers, while also attracting seasoned opera lovers, so we’re thrilled to announce The Golden Cockerel as the third part of the Kosky trifecta.”
“If you’re transported by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, or Flight of the Bumble Bee, you’ll fall in love with this richly melodic, kaleidoscopic work. And we’re doubly proud that this will be the first time the opera has been staged in Australia since it was written in 1908 – your first experience of this glorious work will be in the most beautiful and original production imaginable.”
In its impossibly demanding roles for bass, lyric coloratura soprano and stratospheric tenor, audiences will hear the three operatic Olympians who have defined them in recent years: British-Ukrainian Pavlo Hunka, and Russian stars Venera Gimadieva and Andrei Popov. Their spine-chilling voices will soar over the magnificent Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, which is re-united with its former Music Director, Arvo Volmer.
“I am thrilled to be coming back to Adelaide Festival with an opera production that means so much to me, and very grateful to be a part of another incredible festival curated by Neil and Rachel,” said Director Barrie Kosky. “Adelaide Festival holds a special place in my heart; it is my favourite arts festival in all the world and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to attend.”
Barrie Kosky is one of the world’s finest living opera and theatre directors. The Laurence Olivier Award winner was born in Melbourne and lives in Berlin. In 1996, Kosky became the youngest ever Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival aged 29, and delivered one of the most memorable festivals in its 60-plus-year history.
He was Artistic Director of the Schauspielhaus Vienna from 2001-2005, and was appointed the Artistic Director and Intendant of the Komische Oper Berlin in 2012. At the end of his first season, the Komische Oper was voted Opera House of the Year by 50 international opera critics and won the International Opera Award for Opera Company of 2015.
Kosky’s celebrated opera and theatre work includes productions for Opera Australia, the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Netherlands Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Los Angeles Opera, English National Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Belvoir, Malthouse Theatre, Sydney and Melbourne International Festivals, and many more.
The Golden Cockerel, which recently premiered in May at Opéra National de Lyon, is a co-production with Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Adelaide Festival, Opéra National de Lyon and Komische Oper Berlin in association with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
“You wish it would never end… The Golden Cockerel is certainly the Rimsky-Korsakov masterpiece.” – Opera Today
Conductor: Arvo Volmer | Director: Barrie Kosky | Featuring: Venera Gimadieva, Vasily Efimov, Andrei Popov, Samuel Dundas, Pavlo Hunka, Mischa Shelomianski, Sarah MacIvor, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Festival Chorus | Associate Director: Denni Sayers | Stage Designer: Rufus Didwiszus | Costume Designer: Victoria Behr | Lighting Designer: Franck Evin | Choreographer: Otto Pichler
The Golden Cockerel will play at the Adelaide Festival Theatre as part of the 2022 Adelaide Festival from 4 – 9 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.
Image: The Golden Cockerel – photo by Jean Louis Fernandez