THE RAKE'S PROGRESS
by Igor Stravinsky • April 30; May 3, 6, 8, 2016
Pittsburgh Opera concludes its 77th season with the Pittsburgh premiere of the David Hockney production of Stravinsky’s THE RAKE’S PROGRESS.
The plot follows Tom Rakewell, who squanders his large inheritance on women, drinking and gambling.
- Tom’s journey from fortunate heir, to gambler, to inmate at Bedlam is based on a famous series of engravings by William Hogarth from 1732.
- The opera itself is by Igor Stravinsky, who was inspired by Hogarth’s engravings. It premiered in 1951.
- The libretto was written by poets W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman.
- Pittsburgh Opera is performing the David Hockney production, with jaw-dropping sets, props, wigs and costumes designed by “the most influential British artist of all time”. Hockney mimics the feel of Hogarth’s original engravings, using black cross hatching and the three colors printers used in Hogarth’s time: red, blue and green.
The performances are essentially a living David Hockney art installation set to Stravinsky’s beautiful neo-classical music. For an overview of what this means, please see Glyndebourne’s YouTube video “The Rake's Progress: An Introduction” below, which includes an interview with David Hockney.
► See Pittsburgh Opera's videos of our full dress rehearsal below, in the "Video excerpts" section of this webpage.
• Sung in the original English with projected English titles
• All performances at the Benedum Center
Below are video excerpts recorded at our full dress rehearsal on April 28. 2016.
"Here I Stand" - Tom Rakewell (Alek Shrader) has turned down a steady job. Instead he decides "Till I die then of fever, or by lightning am struck, let me live by my wits and trust to my luck."
"No word from Tom" - Anne Trulove (Layla Claire) prepares to set off to London in search of Tom, who has failed to send for her like he promised. Undaunted, she claims "Love hears, love knows; Love answers him across the silent miles, and goes."
Mother Goose's Brothel - Nick Shadow (David Pittsinger) has taken Tom to London. First stop, Mother Goose's (Laurel Semerdjian) brothel. There, the Roaring Boys and Whores describe their M.O.
(Roaring Boys) "For what is sweeter to human nature
than to quarrel over nothing at all.
To hear the crashing of furniture smashing
Or heads being bashed in a tavern brawl?"
(Whores) "With darting glances and bold advances
We open fire upon young and old;
Surprised by rapture, their hearts are captured,
and into our laps they pour their gold."
"Come, master" - Shadow convinces Tom to marry bearded lady Baba the Turk (Gill Grove.) His logic? "For he alone is free, who chooses what to will, and wills his choice as destiny."
Auction Scene - "Ruin. Disaster. Shame." That's what's befallen Tom, whose possessions are now at auction. Here, a gloating crowd crows over Tom's misfortune.
- Broadway World - Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of THE RAKE'S PROGRESS at Pittsburgh Opera
- Pittsburgh in the Round - A Word or Two from Pittsburgh Opera’s General Director, Christopher Hahn, on “The Rake’s Progress”
- WORDS &TC - A Pittsburgh Art Blog - David Hockney at the Pittsburgh Opera
- 'Burgh Vivant - The “Buzz” from Buzzelli: Pittsburgh’s Top To Do’s THIS WEEKEND (4/28 – 5/1)
- Pittsburgh City Paper - Short List: April 27 - May 5
- The Almanac - Pittsburgh Opera ends season with Pittsburgh premiere
- WQED podcast interview with General Director Christopher Hahn
- WQED podcast interview with Layla Claire (Anne Trulove)
- WQED postcast interview with Alek Shrader (Tom Rakewell)
- WQED podcast interview with Maestro Antony Walker
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette preview - Pittsburgh Opera gets Hockney production
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette music preview - Recalling the American premiere of Stravinsky’s magnificent 'The Rake’s Progress'
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review preview - 'Rake's Progress' combines talents of Stravinsky, Auden and Hockney
- Broadway World - Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of THE RAKE'S PROGRESS at Pittsburgh Opera
- WESA-FM - Pittsburgh Opera's 'Rake's Progress' Bridges Distant Centuries
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review review - 'Rake's Progress' a compelling tale with a superb cast
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette review - Pittsburgh Opera mounts Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress' in high style
- Treading Art preview - The Rake's Progress
- NEXT pittsburgh preview - David Hockney and Igor Stravinsky converge at Pittsburgh Opera
- Broadway World - STAGE TUBE: Scenes from THE RAKE'S PROGRESS at Pittsburgh Opera (Video Content)
- Local Arts Pgh - Win Mother’s Day with “The Rake’s Progress”
- VisitPittsburgh blog - "The Visitors Guide to the Pittsburgh Opera"
The Rake's Progress Cast
The Rake's Progress Creative Team
Conductor Antony Walker
Stage Director Roy Rallo
Set Designer David Hockney
Costume Designer David Hockney
Lighting Designer Cindy Limauro
Wig & Make-up Designer James Geier
Stage Manager Cindy Knight
Chorus Master Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist James Lesniak
Guest Coach/First Pianist Allen Perriello
Assistant Stage Director Jennifer Williams*
Assistant Lighting Designer Todd Nonn
Assistant Stage Manager Sarah Cowing
Assistant Stage Manager Randy Ahmed
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Anne Trulove is admiring the springtime in the garden of her father's house with her suitor, Tom Rakewell. Anne’s father sends her into the house and tells Tom he has arranged an accountant's job for him. Tom declines the offer and declares his determination to live by his wits and enjoy life.
When Tom says "I wish I had money," a stranger introduces himself as Nick Shadow, and tells Tom that a forgotten rich uncle has died, leaving the young man a fortune. Anne and Trulove return to hear the news, and urge Tom to accompany Shadow to London to settle the estate. As Tom leaves, promising to send for Anne as soon as everything is arranged, Shadow announces, "the Progress of a Rake begins."
At a brothel in the city, whores entertain a group of dissolute young playboys; together they toast Venus and Mars. Shadow coaxes Tom to recite for the madam, Mother Goose, the catechism he has taught him: to follow nature rather than doctrine, and to seek beauty and pleasure. Tom refuses, however, to define love. Seeing that Tom is restless to escape, Shadow turns back the clocks and commends him to the pursuit of hedonism in the brothel. Tom responds with ruminations of love. When the whores offer to console him, Mother Goose claims him for herself and leads him off.
As evening falls, Anne leaves her father's house, determined to find Tom, since she has heard nothing from him.
Tom begins to tire of city pleasures and no longer dares to think of Anne. When he says "I wish I were happy," Shadow appears, showing a poster of Baba the Turk, a bearded lady whom he urges Tom to marry, because only when one is obligated to neither passion nor reason, can one be truly free. Amused by the idea, Tom gets ready to go out.
Anne approaches Tom's house but hesitates to knock when she sees servants enter with strangely shaped packages. Tom arrives, and startled to see Anne, he says she must forget him. Baba calls out from the sedan, and Tom admits to the astonished Anne that he is married to Baba. Anne faces the bitter realities, while Tom repeats that it is too late to turn back. As Tom helps Baba from the sedan, a curious crowd gathers. Anne hurriedly leaves.
Tom sulks amid Baba's curios as she chatters about them. When he refuses to respond to her affection, she complains bitterly. Tom silences her and she remains motionless as Tom falls asleep. Shadow wheels in a strange contraption, and when Tom awakens, saying "Oh I wish it were true," the machine turns out to be his dream: an invention for making stones into bread. Seeing it as a means of redemption, Tom wonders whether he might again deserve Anne. Shadow points out that the device will attract potential investors.
Tom’s business venture has ended in ruin, and his estate is being auctioned, complete with a mute and motionless Baba. Amid rumors as to what has become of Tom, Anne enters in search of him. The auctioneer Sellem hawks various objects – including Baba, who resumes her chatter after the crowd bids to purchase her. Indignant at finding her belongings up for sale, she orders everyone out. She draws Anne aside, saying the girl should try to save Tom, who still loves her. Anne, hearing Tom and Shadow singing in the street, runs out.
Shadow leads Tom to a graveyard with a freshly dug grave, where he reminds the young man that a year and a day have passed since he promised to serve him: now the servant claims his wage. Tom must end his life by any means he chooses before the stroke of twelve. Suddenly, Shadow offers a reprieve: they will gamble for Tom's soul. When Tom, placing his trust in the Queen of Hearts, calls upon Anne, and her voice is heard, Shadow realizes he has lost. In retaliation, he condemns Tom to insanity. As Shadow disappears and dawn rises, Tom – gone mad – imagines himself Adonis, waiting for Venus.
In an insane asylum, Tom declares that Venus will visit him, and his fellow inmates mock him. Anne arrives, and believing her to be Venus, Tom confesses his sins. Briefly they imagine timeless love in Elysium, and Tom asks her to sing him to sleep. As she does, her voice moves the other inmates. Trulove comes to fetch his daughter, who bids the sleeping Tom farewell. When he wakens to find her gone, he cries out for Venus.
The principals gather to tell the moral that each finds in the story. Anne warns that not every man can hope for someone like her to save him; Baba warns that all men are mad; Tom warns against self-delusion, to Trulove's agreement; Shadow mourns his role as man's alter ego; and all concur that the devil finds work for idle hands.
- courtesy of Opera News, freely edited
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- Study Guide for THE RAKE'S PROGRESS* (PDF), created by our Education department
- Run time for THE RAKE'S PROGRESS: 3 hours, 5 minutes, including 2 intermissions
- Understand Every Word: Supertitles shown at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time Downtown parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at The Benedum Center
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
Thanks to our sponsors and partners
- Season Sponsor: PNC
- Season Media Sponsor: WQED-FM
- Supported in part by Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
- Supported in part by Allegheny Regional Asset District
- Proud member of Opera America
- Official Chocolatier: Sarris Candies
- Film Series Partner: Pittsburgh Filmmakers