The Rake's Progress

Inspired by a series of 18th-century satirical cartoons of the same name, 'The Rake's Progress' is an opera which boasts an impressive, if not somewhat unusual, talent at its core. While the plot itself is borrowed by the prints of the painter and satirist, William Hogarth, the opera results from a collaboration between Igor Stravinsky, the most...

Inspired by a series of 18th-century satirical cartoons of the same name, 'The Rake's Progress' is an opera which boasts an impressive, if not somewhat unusual, talent at its core. While the plot itself is borrowed by the prints of the painter and satirist, William Hogarth, the opera results from a collaboration between Igor Stravinsky, the most influential 20th-century composer according to the 'Time's 100 list', and the English poet, W.H. Auden, and his one-time lover, Chester Kallman.

As Hogarth's sketches recount, the story of 'The Rake's Progress' centres on Tom Rakewell: an idle-minded Englishman who refuses to settle down in the hope of leading a more adventurous lifestyle. The opera begins with Rakewell rejecting the stable job offered to him by Mr. Trulove, the father of the lady he has been courting, for a path of independent dandyism. Answering Rakewell's desire for quick-and-easy money, the mysterious Nick Shadow enters the picture and lures Rakewell to London on the premise that he is to collect an inheritance left to him by an uncle. What follows is a series of amusing and dramatic affairs with such bawdy characters as the Madame, Mother Goose, and Baba the Turk, a bearded lady from the fair. All of which culminates with the moral: 'For idle hearts and hands and minds the Devil finds a work to do.'

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