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Rimsky-Korsakov epitomises the fantastic side of the Russian soul. Regarding opera as „essentially the most enchanting and intoxicating of lies,“ he drew on his country’s rich folk heritage to create a fairy-tale world in which the fanciful and commonplace were fused through extravagant orchestral virtuosity and fervently Romantic vocal writing. This Châtelet revival of Le Coq d’Or brings to the stage once again the great Kabuki actor Ennosuke III’s striking staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera first mounted in co-production with the San Francisco Opera in 1984. Born into one of Japan’s most important Kabuki families in 1939, Ennosuke III is a master of his art, who has worked to give this traditional theatre form appeal for modern audiences. As an actor, director and producer his aim has been to bring back the energy and excitement of Edo-period Kabuki. High-tech special effects, dynamic lighting, stunning costumes and minimalist sets have drawn new fans to his ‘Super Kabuki’ shows. He worked on this sumptuous production of Le Coq d’Or with an all-Japanese creative team and the result had an Oriental beauty and fascination entirely appropriate to this satirical fantasy opera. Completed in 1907, Le Coq d’Or, based on Pushkin’s 1834 poem, was Rimsky-Korsakov’s last opera.
Manuel Blancafort i de Rosselló was born on 12th August 1897 in the spa town of La Garriga, near Barcelona, into an educated, middle-class Catalan family. His parents owned a famous hotel in the town which was frequented by many artists, intellectuals and politicians. An enterprising man, and an enthusiast for technological innovation, his father had also set up a factory in La Garriga to produce pianola rolls, and this in effect became Blancafort’s music school. It was his meeting with Mompou, in 1914, that was to prove the most significant for the young Blancafort, not only musically but also aesthetically and spiritually. Mompou took on the rôle of elder brother, supporting Blancafort and guiding him as he took his first steps as a composer …….