I managed to watch Koukourgi this week end, which had been sitting on the "to do" pile for too long !
Koukourgi is a comic opera composed by Cherubini around 1792, during the French revolution. It is a satyrical piece on the "ancien régime" transposed to china. Koukourgi is a Mandarin, with a character pretty close to Louis XVI, lazy, coward and interested in women and food. The other important character is Zulma, a young a beautiful princess, and Alezan a beautiful and courageous soldier who free Zulma father held hostage by some Tartar in a castle. Koukourgi court Zulma who is in love with Alezan. In the end Alezan is victorious and Koukourgi is sent home to his mom assuming his mediocrity.
The libretto as you see is rather shallow and doesnt amount too much, but the same is not true of the opera.
Koukourgi was never completed and staged, presumably because of the Terror. The score got lost, and by one of these mystery of history was found in Krakow library after the war. The prelude and the end of the final scene of the opera were missing. The prelude was taken from another opera and so was the final scene. The completed opera was staged in 2010 at Klagenfurt (Austria) theater and this is what has been filmed live on this DVD. The staging is nice, and the costumes absolutely magnificent.
The music is very Mozartian and absolutely lovely. A lot of duos and trios and not so many arias, as in Mozart operas. There is some repetitions (da capo), but it is never tedious.
A light comic opera really fun to watch, and we had a great time with it.
As an opera, Lodoiska and Médée are probably a bit more interesting, mostly because of the libretti.
I discovered that two other Cherubini operas have been recorded (so there are a total of 6 available): Les Deux Journées (Op 111, Naive) and Les Abencerages (Arts Archives).