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Rimsky-Korsakov and His World$
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Marina Frolova-Walker

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182711

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182711.001.0001

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Staging Defeat: The Golden Cockerel and the Russo-Japanese War

Staging Defeat: The Golden Cockerel and the Russo-Japanese War

(p.197) Staging Defeat: The Golden Cockerel and the Russo-Japanese War
Rimsky-Korsakov and His World

Marina Frolova-Walker

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines The Golden Cockerel as a pointed political satire, prompted and shaped by the concrete events of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Indeed, Rimsky-Korsakov and his librettist saturated the libretto with direct and recognizable references to the recent war, turning the opera into a kind of topical political theater. Here, Rimsky-Korsakov appears as politically radical, and returns to the idioms of the Russian Style—not in a spirit of nostalgia, but with the aim of inventing and mocking his previous values, and also mocking the Russian state, whose hubris had led to a humiliating defeat. Ultimately, the Cockerel became a distorting mirror in which the previous seventy years of Russian opera and its nationalist preoccupations found an unflattering reflection.

Keywords:   The Golden Cockerel, political satire, Russo-Japanese War, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Style, Russian state, Russian opera

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