THE GOLDEN COCKEREL
LE COQ D'OR

PREMIERE
PARIS, 24 MAY 1914

SCENERY & COSTUMES

NATALIA GONCHAROVA

MUSIC
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

CHOREOGRAPHY
MICHEL FOKINE


PREMIERE
LONDON, 23 SEPTEMBER 1937

SCENERY & COSTUMES

NATALIA GONCHAROVA

MUSIC
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, ADAPTED BY NICHOLAS TCHEREPNINE

CHOREOGRAPHY
MICHEL FOKINE

The Golden Cockerel was the outstanding success of the Russian Ballet's last pre-war season in 1914. The audience gasped when, from the totally blacked-out theatre, the curtain rose on the stunning set. Bright primary colours, distorted perspective and stylised floral motifs, were used by Russian painter Natalia Goncharova. While they seemed naïve, the designs were, in fact, contemporary interpretations of her national culture. The simplicity and vigour of her designs provided a welcome antidote to the lush, Orientalism and splendour associated with the designs of Léon Bakst and Alexandre Benois. In 1937, the Russian Ballet of Col. W. de Basil staged a revival of this ballet, for which Goncharova redesigned the set and costumes.

King Dodon, one of the main protagonists of this opera/ballet, received a magical golden cockerel from an astrologer. In return, he promised the astrologer anything he wished. When the astrologer demanded the hand of Queen Shemakhan, who was betrothed to King Dodon, the enraged King killed him. The golden cockerel avenged his master by striking the King dead.