The devil is hard at work in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress! The three-act opera was premiered at Venice’s La Fenice in 1951 and is whimsically staged and performed in this production from the 2010 Glyndebourne opera festival.
In composing The Rake’s Progress, Stravinsky hoped to combine the spirit of Cosi fan Tutte with the sum of his neoclassical experiences, drawing particular inspiration from Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. While that might seem like a strange laundry list of composers, Stravinsky’s opera avoids becoming a mere pastiche of disparate styles, and in contrast to the corrosively ironic engravings by Hogarth that inspired its story, the work overflows with lyricism and emotion.
Hogarth’s engravings were visually integrated into David Hockney’s famous Glyndebourne staging in the 1970s, a staging that was in this 2010 production. A design “still marvellously fresh”, The Guardian described how, “Hockney's designs mediate between the 18th century and the 20th, just as the score self-consciously shuttles between Mozartian models and modernism.” With “exceptionally strong” music-making of singers, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and conductor Vladimir Jurowski, this benchmark production of Stravinsky’s enigmatic opera is sure to fascinate its audiences.
Photo: © Alastair Muir