Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress, 1948

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

Superlatives abound! ‘One of music's truly epochal innovators; no other composer of the twentieth century exerted such a pervasive influence or dominated his art in the way that Stravinsky did during his seven-decade musical career.’ more. Britannica says his compositions ‘remained a touchstone of modernism for much of his long working life.’  Hugely influential first in Russia (ballets for Diaghilev), then France (where Rite of Spring caused furore) and finally in America, where he moved in 1939, his music changed from neo-nationalism (after he left Russia) to neo-classical, (culminating, 1948-51, in The Rake’s Progress). His social set was a who’s who of Hollywood and art, . including W.H.Auden, who became his librettist. (Auden reputedly felt opera was the only part of contemporary drama ‘in which the poet remained an essential contributor, and opera was the form that gave the poet most imaginative freedom’ More discussion here

Stravinsky and The Rake

This is a seriously challenging opera! Auden and his collaborator embellished the plot of Hogarth’s simple drama with bizarre characters – including the devil and a bearded lady - and lengthy libretto. ‘There is no getting around the fact that the opera springs from Stravinsky's love-hate relationship with the operatic tradition. His ambivalence about the form separates his three mature operas (Mavra, Oedipus Rex, and The Rake) from those of born theater composers such as Puccini and Strauss,

Our Production

David Hockney designed this production for Glyndebourne in 1975, using the Hogarth pictures as inspiration. View a trailer here. More about the evolution of Hockney’s designs here. Watch an interview with the director, designer and conductor of our 2010 revival. Read The Guardian’s review.
and Berg and Britten as well.’  More from David Schiff in a fascinating account. ‘The Rake’s Progress is a mock-serious pastiche of late 18th-century grand opera but is nevertheless typically Stravinskyan in its brilliance, wit, and refinement.’  Britannica.  Watch an entire performance from Aix-en- Provence.