Zolotoy Petushok

The Golden Cockerel

King Dodon takes counsel with his nobles in order to devise a means whereby the constant plotting of a neighbouring hostile ruler may be frustrated. Ere a practicable scheme has been evolved, there enters an Astrologer, who proffers a golden cockerel. With the bird watching over the city the king may sleep; danger will be sounded by a warning crow. At the cockerel's first alarm the king despatches his two sons to lead his army; at the second he decides to betake himself to the field of battle. The first sight that meets his gaze is that of his two sons, who have done each other to death. At dawn he perceives a tent. Dodon and his General mistake this as belonging to the leader of the opposing army, but to their astonishment there emerges from it the lovely Queen of Shemakha. She completely infatuates and ruthlessly fools the old Dodon, who finally asks her to share his throne. On their return in state to the capital, Dodon is reminded by the Astrologer of his promised token of gratitude. The king, asking his price, is horrified by a demand for the person of his bride. Infuriated, he slays the Astrologer. The queen deserts him, and he is killed by the golden beak of the avenging cockerel.

(In a brief Epilogue, the Astrologer returns to life and assures the spectators that only he and the queen are mortals; what they have witnessed is but a fantasy.)

synopsis by M. Montagu Nathan, Rimsky-Korsakof, Duffield & Co., New York, 1917.

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