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KU Opera presents "Rake's Progress"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

KU Opera will present "Rake's Progress" February 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 in the Robert Baustian Theatre in Murphy Hall. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.

Very few operas are as relevant to today's culture as Igor Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress." This Faustian morality tale was inspired by the satiric series of 1735 etchings by the artist William Hogarth about the life of Tom Rakewell who inherits a large sum of money and subsequently squanders it on wine, women and gambling and winds up penniless in Bedlam. Stravinsky created this opera in neo-classic form with distinctly modern 20th century sounds. Some scholars believe that this is the modern version of Mozart's Don Giovanni tale, right down to the Epilogue where the singers step out of the scene and speak directly to the audience.

Just as it did then, Rakewell's fall from grace still has a voyeuristic appeal today that seems at odds with the story's moral message. KU Opera will set the production in present day London, with a nod to Hogarth appearing in the scenic elements.

"We are living in a society obsessed with the cult of celebrity, outrageous greed in the corporate sector, and a recession," said KU Opera Director, Kathleen Belcher. "Almost daily it seems we are witness to the fall of politicians, sports stars, and other people of prominence living Tom Rakewell's nightmare."

Tickets for "Rake's Progress" are $10/general admission and $5/students and senior citizens and are available by calling 785-864-3436, www.music.ku.edu.


Act I Scene 1 An afternoon in Spring, outside the Trulove home in the country

The scene opens with a pastoral duet for Anne Trulove and Tom Rakewell. Her father expresses concern over Tom's lack of steady employment and offers him a position in a friend's counting house. Tom rejects the offer as too demeaning and gives himself over to the whims of fortune. Nick Shadow arrives to tell Tom that a rich uncle has died and left him a large inheritance. Nick offers to work for Tom who agrees to pay him after a year and a day once he knows what Nick's services are worth. Tom promises to return to marry Anne and then rushes off to London to manage his estate.

Act I Scene 2 Mother Goose's Brothel, London

Nick and Mother Goose mentor Tom in a life rooted in acting in the impulse of the moment. Tom buys into their philosophy and gives a perfect and cynical definition of nature, beauty, and pleasure faltering only at the mention of love. Tom tries to leave "before it is too late" but Nick moves the clock back an hour to show Tom that time is on his side. Tom ignores his gut instincts and spends the night with Mother Goose.

Act I Scene 3 An autumn night, outside the Trulove home

Anne has not heard from Tom in several months and suspects the worst. She is torn between the two men in her life but decides to help the weaker of the two and leaves for London.


Act II Scene 1 Tom's Home in London

Tom is disgusted by London and its decadent pleasures and wishes that he were happy. Nick Shadow materializes with a gossip magazine featuring the bearded lady, Baba the Turk. H...

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