Music composed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844ñ1908). Libretto by
Vladimir Nikolayevich Bel’sky, based on Alexander Pushkin’s treatment of
stories from The Alhambra by Washington Irving (rev. ed., 1851).

First Performance: 24 September 1909, Solodovnikov
Theatre, Moscow.

Principal Characters:
King Dodon Bass
Prince Guidon Tenor
Prince Afron Baritone
Commander Polkan Bass
Amelfa, royal housekeeper Contralto
Astrologer Tenore-Altino
The Queen of Shemakha Soprano
The Golden Cockerel Soprano


The bumbling King Dodon talks himself into believing that his country is
in danger from the neighbouring State governed by the beautiful Queen
Shemakhan. He asks for advice from a mysterious Astrologer, who gives him a
magic Golden Cockerel, which promises to look after his interests.

The Golden Cockerel confirms that Queen Shemakhan certainly has some
territorial ambitions, so King Dodon foolishly decides to make a pre-emptive
strike against the neighbouring State, and sends his army, led by his two
sons, to start the battle. However, his sons are both so inept that they
manage to kill each other on the battlefield.

King Dodon then decides to lead the army himself, but further bloodshed is
averted because the Golden Cockerel ensures that the old king becomes
besotted when he actually sees the beautiful Queen. The Queen herself
encourages this situation by performing a seductive dance – which tempts the
King to try and partner her, but he is clumsy and makes a complete mess of

The Queen realises that she can take over Dodonís country without
further fighting ó she engineers a marriage proposal from Dodon, which she
coyly accepts.

The final scene starts with the great Bridal procession in all its
splendour – and when this is reaching its conclusion, the Astrologer appears
and says to the king ìYou promised me anything I could ask for if there
could be a happy resolution of your troubles…….î ìYes, Yes, ì said
the king, ìJust name it and you shall have itî. ìRight,î said the
Astrologer, ìI want Queen Shemakhan!î. At this, the King flares up in
fury, and strikes down the Astrologer with a blow from his mace. The Golden
Cockerel, loyal to his Astrologer master, then swoops across and pecks
through the Kingís jugular.

[Synopsis Source:

here for the complete score

here for the complete The Alhambra

image_description=Beverly Sills as Queen Shemakha
first_audio_name=Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Coq d’or
WinAmp, VLC or iTunes
product_title=Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Coq d’or
product_by=Norman Treigle (King Dodon), Beverly Sills (Queen Shemakha), Enrico di Giuseppe (Astrologer), Muriel Costa-Greenspon (Amelfa), Gary Glaze (Guidon), David Rae Smith (Afron), Edward Pierson (Polkan), Syble Young (Le Coq d’or), Orchestra and Chorus of the New York City Opera, Julius Rudel (cond.)
Live performance, 9 November 1971, New York (sung in English).