New Opera NYC presents a new production of Golden Cockerel (Photo Credit Anne Akers)
Review by Anne Akers
While most associate Rimsky-Korsakov with his composition Scherherazade from One Thousand and One Nights, many are not as familiar with the Golden Cockerel, the 15th and last opera written by Korsakov, completed in 1907 and premiered in Moscow in 1909, shortly after the composer’s death. Gaining success internationally, the three act opera has not been seen in New York City for decades. The recent performance of Golden Cockerel, presented by New Opera NYC, is the first-ever production in NYC to be performed in the original Russian.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Igor Konyukhov, Founder of the New Opera NYC is Russian borne, as well as the distinguished lead actors who bring their rich heritage, from the Bolshoi Theatre and beyond, to this performance.
Before curtain call, the audience assembled at the Sheen Cultural Center was treated to a rousing musical fanfare, with Conductor David J. Jackson well known for his interpretation of French and Russian opera and his significant conducting credentials which include the Metropolitan Opera. Anticipating the storybook charm of the tale about to be told, the audience was mixed with adults, millenials, and even young children, who I suspect were being treated to their first operatic experience. The energy in the theatre was palpable.
As the lights dim and the curtain is raised, the set revealed was awash in a blast of red, yellows, gold and sky blues, heralding the colorful performance ahead. Brilliant costuming and immortal characters included an Astrologer, the glorious Queen of Shemakhan, and the Golden Cockerel, a creature of inhuman brilliance.
This opera, a cornerstone of Russian heritage, derives from Alexander Pushkin’s lyric poem of The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, as well as two chapters of the Tales of Alhambra by Washington Irving. The work itself, inspired by the political situation in Russia at the time was considered by many to be “a razor-sharp satire of the autocracy, of Russian imperialism, and of the Russo-Japanese war”. Because of its political overtones, the Opera was immediately banned by the Palace and was not allowed to be staged. It was thought that Rimsky-Korsakov’s health was probably affected by this and he was dead at the time it was performed two years later.
Korsakov, and his many fans worldwide, would be pleased to know that although the production has not been performed by the Met since the war, a June 2017 production will be offered at the Metropolitan Opera, with prima ballerina Misty Copeland, a rare testimony to the enduring message of this work.
As one who supports arts and culture, it is encouraging to see the works of independent entertainment companies, like New Opera NYC, who are presenting classic, cutting edge performances with the support of companies like Merrill Lynch and other private underwriters. Thank you for presenting the “nuggets that shine” in The Golden Cockerel.
About the Reviewer: Anne Akers, Editor in Chief, GLOW Beauty, Health & Wellness Magazine, www.glowbeautymag.com and Co-Founder, Publisher MDPUBLISH www.mdpublish.com
New Opera NYC
presents a new production of
May 18-21, 2017
New Opera NYC presents a new production of Golden Cockerel by N. Rimsky-Korsakov from May 18-21, 2017 at the Loreto Theater, Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, 18 Bleecker Street, NYC. Performances: Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $25-89.
The fifteenth and last opera written by N. Rimsky-Korsakov, Golden Cockerel is based on a faux fairytale by a great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and set to a libretto by Vladimir Belsky. The piece is a cornerstone of the Russian opera heritage; it has enjoyed international success ever since it premiered in 1909, but it has not been seen in NYC in decades. This is the first-ever production in New York City to be performed in the original Russian.
New Opera NYC’s production features distinguished bass of Bolshoi Theater
Mikhail Svetlov as King Dodon, one of his signature roles, and Russian soprano Julia Lima and Alexandra Batsios as Queen of Shemakha, and
Ksenia Antonova, Ksenia Berestovskaya, Michael Celentano, Bonnie Frauenthal, Dmitry Gishpling-Chernov, Daniel Kamalic, Isaiah Trofimenko, John Villemaire, and Antonio Watts. Performed in Russian with English supertitles.
Production: Igor Konyukhov; Conductor: J. David Jackson; Costume Design by Olga Maslova; Set and Props Design by Zachary M. Crane; Lighting Design by Greg Mitchell.
About New Opera NYC Founder Igor Konyukhov
Igor Konyukhov, founder of New Opera NYC is a Russian born director and choreographer based in the U.S. Mr. Konyukhov started out as a physicist earning his Master of Science degree from Moscow State University, Russia. He continued his education at the University of Connecticut studying for a PhD in Nuclear Physics. His passion for theater led him to directing and choreography. He moved to NYC where he earned his MFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2012, Mr. Konyukhov debuted as a stage director presenting Baroque opera Armida at the Orensanz Foundation in New York City, Academy of Music Northampton and MMAC in NYC. Mr. Konyukhov also directed the world premiere of the opera Shulamit for the JCC Manhattan. Konyukhov’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta was premiered in 2014 at the El Museo del Barrio and was presented in San Francisco in 2016 at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center. In 2015, Konyukhov staged Schumann’s Spanische Liebeslieder and Liebeslieder Waltzer by J. Brahms in an innovative production Salon 4. He also staged Boris Godunov in 2016 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco. His theater credits include two productions of M. Lermontov’s Demon at St. Marks Theater, NYC in 2016.
This performance is part of the second annual New York Opera Fest, a two-month celebration of New York’s vibrant and varied opera community throughout May and June, 2017, with over 20 companies putting on more than 30 events in venues around the city. The Opera Fest is organized by the New York Opera Alliance, in partnership with OPERA America, the national service organization for opera. For more information and a full listing, visit: http://nyoperafest.com/.
New Opera NYC (NONYC) was founded in 2012 by Igor Konyukhov. Over the years the company with the support of our audience and donors established itself in New York opera scene. Starting as a small initiative presenting chamber size productions, in the past years NONYC has developed immensely presenting a large scale classical opera productions collaborating with internationally renowned singers, conductors and designers with review in New York Times, Opera News Magazine and many other art covering media. New Opera NYC adopts an innovative performance strategy and relies on the unexpected and challenging projects. In the past years we have performed in many venues such as Theater at El Museo Del Barrio, JCC Manhattan, Fort Mason Center for Arts in San Francisco, Sheen Center, Angel Orensanz Foundation, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center and Academy of Music in Northampton.
In 2016 NONYC has presented a critically acclaimed production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Mason Center in San Francisco. In 2017-18 NONYC will workshop and present a new opera Black Square, commissioned from the internationally acclaimed composer Ilya Demutsky
Located in the NoHo/East Village section of downtown New York on historic Bleecker Street, the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is a vibrant new arts organization that presents over 75 events a year specializing in theatre, music, film, and talks. A project of the Archdiocese of New York, the Sheen Center complex encompasses the 270-seat Loreto mainstage theatre, a 90-seat Black Box Theatre, four rehearsal studios, and an Art Gallery.