This summer’s opera from the Music Academy of the West will be a new production of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, with a libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, loosely based on a series of eight paintings by William Hogarth (1697-1764).
The wonderful Academy Voice Fellows will sing, while the Festival Orchestra will be conducted by Russian superstar Alexander Lazarev, with stage direction by David Paul of the Juilliard School faculty.
The production, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St., will mark the opera’s Santa Barbara premiere.
Thanks to Stravinky’s unique friendship with the great musician and writer Robert Craft, we have an extraordinarily complete record of the genesis and composition of The Rake’s Progress, beginning when Stravinsky attended an exhibition of Hogarth’s paintings in Chicago on May 2, 1947, and following the story through the opera’s first performance in Venice — with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Anne Truelove (!) — on Sept. 11, 1951 (which is certainly a happier reason for remembering that month and day).
I recommend the final edition (1994) of Craft’s monumental Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship for this and many other great stories. (Commenting on the amazing maze of wrinkles that took over Auden’s features in his maturity, Stravinsky said, “We must smooth out Wystan’s face sometime to see if that is really him in there.”)
With its witty, elegant libretto and lively, transparent score, The Rake’s Progress is a neo-classical cross between Tom Jones and Faust. Tom Rakewell loves Anne Truelove, but is led away from her to the fleshpots of London by Nick Shadow, who is the Devil disguised as a manservant. It’s all downhill from there — morally, of course, not musically.
Reserved seating for
is $120 (box seats), $78, $58, $38 and $10 (prices include Granada facility fees). Tickets can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here. Tickets are also available from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222.