Opera in one act. Running Time: 16 minutes.
Photo from Au fil du temps a WordPress blog of French modern poetry.
SETTING: A farmyard. A Fox dresses up as a nun and traps a Cock twice only for him to escape with the help of a Ram and a Cat who then kill the Fox and dance for joy at their liberation.
LOOK OUT FOR:
0: The prelude (a march) is rather cute **.
1: It is followed by a vaguely Chinese-y trio * for the Cock, the Ram, and the Cat. Much of what follows, in which the Fox traps the Cock for the first time while dressed as a nun, is set to a syncopated rhythm *.
7: Eventually the Chinese-y tune returns and Cat and the Ram “ooh-ohh” very well **.
10: The Fox captures the Cock again and tries to pull out his feathers while he is still alive **.
12: The Cat and the Ram return and kill the Fox **.
14: The Cat, Ram, and Cock dance and sing for joy ** and the actors depart to a return of the march from the start of the work.
I actually rather liked this, but it really isn’t for universal tastes. Stravinsky was engaging in a kind of innovation here, and it probably doesn’t come off well for most people. The first is his usage, or rather incorporation, of syncopation (borrowed from Russian folk music), which for lovers of diatonic music is basically anathema, I know because the music I write often times uses syncopation, and no one listens to my compositions except me. The second is that the vocal lines are not polyphonic, they are heterophonic and can come off as weird to someone expecting traditional sounding music. It is a strikingly modernist and minimalist work, and has to be appreciated at that level. If you try to compare it to Gounod it would just sound like music from Mars. An alpha for those who like it, something much less for those who probably don’t get it.