Rimsky-Korsakov’s final opera The Golden Cockerel will be fully staged for the first time in Australia at the 2022 Adelaide Festival. Director Barrie Kosky tells Jansson J. Antmann why he has steered clear of Russian folklore, why his acclaimed production is seen through the eyes of a mad king, and why the titular bird is like a sexually ambiguous angel of death.  

Golden Cockerel
A scene from Barrie Kosky’s production of The Golden Cockerel at the 2021 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Photo © Jean-Louis Fernandez.

“Somewhere, in a thrice-nine kingdom, in a thrice-ten state, lived the great Tsar Dadon. In his youth he had been bold and ruthless, and waged terrible wars against the rulers of neighbouring kingdoms –...