Notes and Editorial Reviews
Stage Production: John Cox / Designer: David Hockney
Sound Format: PCM Stereo
Picture Format: 4:3
Menu / Subtitle Languages: English, German, French, Spanish
Region Code: 0 worldwide
Running Time: 142 mins
First performed in 1951 at the theatre La Fenice, Venice, the opera The Rake's Progress was given its first British performance by Glyndebourne Opera. This recording is the famous and striking 1975 John Cox production which has been described as a "brilliant stroke" (The Daily Telegraph) and as "a virtuoso piece of production and design".
The designer on the production was the British painter David Hockney, one of today's leading artists. His highly
individual sets, based on the Hogarth's series of prints, reflect perfectly the "spikiness" of the music, combined with the underlying tenderness of the theme of true love.
"Hockney's approach, even while stealing prime attention, is well suited to the icy artificiality and mannered wit of the Auden-Kallman libretto and the emotional pendulum of Stravinsky's music; and it makes an ideal background for John Cox's barbed, scrupulously characterized and timed production which revels in the absurdities of the action, chills the marrow in the Churchyard scene, but does not deny Anne her sweetness, old Trulove his staid benevolence, or indeed Nick Shadow his attractive qualities" -- The Times
STRAVINSKY The Rake’s Progress • Bernard Haitink, cond; Felicity Lott (Anne Trulove); Leo Goeke (Tom Rakewell); Samuel Ramey (Nick Shadow); Richard Van Allen (Father Trulove); Rosalind Elias (Baba the Turk); Nuala Willis (Mother Goose); John Fryatt (Sellem); Thomas Lawlor (Keeper of the Madhouse); Glyndebourne Festival Ch; London PO • ARTHAUS 102 314 (DVD: 146:00) Live: Glyndebourne 1977
This famous production of The Rake’s Progress has been in and out of the catalog repeatedly. It’s good to see it back. David Hockney’s clever stage design and costumes mix Hogarth-based imagery (very much like the Hogarth copper engravings Stravinsky found at the Chicago Art Institute, that inspired the opera) with Op Art-like geometric lines that fill in the textures of objects and costumes. The result is at once realistic and distanced from the reality of 18th-century London, a mirror in its way to the composer’s own neoclassical idiom. John Cox directs his cast to act and move naturally, which they manage to good effect.
The cast is excellent. Felicity Lott had only recently made her rather late operatic debut (at nearly 30), but looks and sounds the teenage ingénue well. Rosalind Elias is a superb Baba, and Leo Goeke a raw-voiced but sensitive Tom. Having encountered Samuel Ramey several times in recent years when artistry could no longer cover the effects of age on his voice, it’s a delight to hear his disciplined, black-marble tone once more as Nick.
Haitink leads the London Philharmonic in a reasonably paced reading that isn’t the most precise, but follows his singers well. Everyone can be understood without subtitles (though these are available). Much of the visual color has survived surprisingly in this analog release, but you may find that the geometric lines referred to above appear at times to cycle up or down—a very disturbing effect on some screens. I noticed this in long and medium shots of the black-and-white walls during act I, but nowhere else.
The sound is good in PCM Stereo, without any breakup, if with a bit of treble loss. Video format is 4:3. Subtitles are supplied in English, German, French, and Spanish. There have been several other DVDs of The Rake’s Progress issued over the years, but none that I’ve seen which so well captured the spirit of the music and libretto. Recommended.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal Read less
Works on This Recording
Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky
Rosalind Elias (Mezzo Soprano),
Felicity Lott (Soprano),
Samuel Ramey (Bass),
Leo Goeke (Tenor),
Richard Van Allan (Bass)
London Philharmonic Orchestra,
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1948-1951; USA
Date of Recording: 1975
Venue: Glyndebourne Festival
Length: 142 Minutes 0 Secs.
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