The Peabody Opera Theatre presents

The Rake’s Progress

Music by Igor Stravinsky

Libretto by W.H. Auden & Chester Kallman

by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., publisher and copyright owner

Hajime Teri Murai, music director

conducting the Peabody Symphony Orchestra

Garnett Bruce, stage director

Luke Hegel-Cantarella, set designer

Douglas Nelson, lighting designer

JoAnn Kulesza, principal coach

Friday, November 18, 2011, at 7:30 PM

Sunday, November 20, 2011, at 3:00 PM

This production has been sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Allan D. Jensen

with additional funding provided by Marc von May

The Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric

140 West Mount Royal Avenue

Purchase tickets ($35 and $25) at

or by phone at 410-900-1150.

Peabody Opera home

See, Time is Yours! In an essay written for the 1999 Peabody Opera Theatre production of the opera, Roger Brunyate examines “the game of time”" in The Rake’s Progress.

The Rake’s Progress is a modern morality play, loosely based on Hogarth’s set of paintings and engravings of the same name. Written at the climax of Stravinsky’s neo-classical period, it shows the composer in a remarkably genial mood, channeling the melodic grace and rhythmic excitement of previous opera composers from Handel and Mozart to Rossini and Verdi, though all in his own inimitable style. The music ranges from the rambunctious street songs of the brothel scene to the eerie grating of the harpsichord in the graveyard scene where the Rake will make his last gamble. Calling for four major soloists, an unusually active chorus, and a Mozart-sized orchestra, this is an opera that packs a great punch within a compact frame. It played to great acclaim at its premiere in Venice in 1951, and has been a favorite with musicians ever since.

The Peabody Opera Theatre has chosen the opera to mark its own premiere: the first of what we hope will be an annual series of performances at the Modell Lyric Opera House. Planned to complement the more traditional repertoire of the Lyric Opera Baltimore, we believe it showcases what Peabody can do best: a score which depends more on musicianship and ensemble than on vocal heft, given in a modern production with innovative designs. Audiences who have enjoyed previous opera productions at Peabody may expect to see the same values here, enhanced by the special atmosphere of the Lyric stage.

Act I, scene ii
Mother Goose’s Brothel (model by Luke Hegel-Cantarella)

Be Careful What You Wish For!

I wish I had Money!
I wish I were Happy!
I wish it were True!
Return, O Love…
I wish for Nothing Else!

“Be careful what you wish for,” writes stage director Garnett Bruce. “Tom Rakewell’s wishes are answered by Nick Shadow—and their unspoken Faustian bargain unfolds with sinister alacrity.

The pursuit of alleged happiness sends Rakewell to his ruin. Too easily trusting of Shadow, too quick to abandon Anne Trulove, too eager to buy into the Bread Machine, Stravinsky and Auden have laid out a cautionary tale about life’s priorities in view of the world’s new burgeoning economy—if only we will listen!

Act II, scene iii
Baba the Turk moves in (model by Luke Hegel-Cantarella)

At age 65, Igor Stravinsky was struck by Hogarth’s engravings of A Rake’s Progress and began to formulate an operatic scenario. On the advice of a Hollywood neighbor (Brave New World author Aldous Huxley) Stravinsky approached the somewhat younger British poet W. H. Auden in November 1947 to give life to the words and speech rhythms of the English language; he in turn brought in his friend Chester Kallman. By 1951, a mid-century morality play—crafted in the land of opportunity by two immigrants—skewers the superficial optimism of the era.

How Radical!

Stravinsky challenged himself to compose “in the mould of an eighteenth-century number opera, one in which the dramatic progress depends on the succession of separate pieces—recitatives and arias, duets, trios, choruses, instrumental interludes.” Perhaps this familiar frame would help bring Hogarth’s images to a wider world and heal our collective soul after the agonies of world war? I sense Auden and Stravinsky held no such optimism. In The Rake’s Progress, the creators of The Age of Anxiety and The Rite of Spring bring their long-range perspective to a society with a shortening attention span.

Act III, scene i
“Ruin, Disaster, Shame!” (model by Luke Hegel-Cantarella)

In the Mid-Eighteenth Century, the prevailing world view was “Heaven predestines all” giving Rakewell all the justification he needs to follow instinct without reason—yet he is soon confounded by the hollowness of it all. In the Mid-Twentieth century, the fašade of a perfect life needed to be revealed as the denial of deeper questions left unexamined. The happiness and love we seek actually has no price and often already surrounds us if we take a closer look. Art, poetry and music reflect and respond to the unexamined questions far better than the next flashy trophy we could buy (retail therapy in our consumer economy!) as balm for these wounds. We are wounded because we are human—something predestination and contemporary capitalism all too easily ignore. Were Stravinsky and Auden (and Hogarth) so radical after all?”

Principal Singers

Passing the cursor over singer’s names will show previous roles
with the Peabody Opera Theatre.
Tom Rakewell   Peter Drackley
Anne Trulove, his intended   Kisma Jordam
Nick Shadow, his manservant   Peter Tomaszewski
Baba the Turk, his wife   Kristina Lewis
Trulove, Anne’s father   Alexander Rosen
Mother Goose, a madam  Diana Cantrelle
Sellem, an auctioneer  David Diehl
The Keeper of the Madhouse  Jeffrey Gates