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July 31, 2012

Wolf Trap Opera to stage 'The Rake's Progress' by Stravinsky

If you missed Peabody Opera Theatre's production of "The Rake's Progress" last season, or if you want to discover or rediscover this unusual and rewarding work, consider a little trip to Vienna, Virginia.

Wolf Trap Opera Company, which can be counted on to enliven our summers with great repertoire, imaginative productions and promising young singers, unveils a new staging of the Stravinsky gem this weekend.

"The Rake's Progress" is a remarkably complex piece. Although the neoclassical music falls easily on the ears, there are intricate layers in the score, which has one foot in the 18th century, the other in contemporary times.

Same for the libretto, fashioned in extraordinarily rich poetic language by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

The story, inspired by William Hogarth's series of prints, "A Rake's Progress," the plot presents an allegory that has hardly lost its relevance or sting.

The would-be hero, Tom Rakewell, abandons his love and the kinder, gentler world of country life for the amoral enticements of the wicked city.

The director of the Wolf Trap production, Tara Faircloth, has written Tom "struggles to find meaning and purpose in a world that simply does not make sense anymore."

Who can't identify with that, especially these days?

The cast includes Corinne Winters (upper left) as Tom's aptly named sweetheart, Anne Trulove; Eric Barry (upper right) as Tom; Craig Colclough (middle left) as Nick Shadow, the Mephistophelian protagonist in this tale; and Margaret Gawrysiak (middle right) as Baba the Turk, the bearded lady who plays a curious role in Tom's descent.

Aaron Sorensen (lower left) as Father Trulove and James Kryshak (lower right) as Sellem the auctioneer are also in the cast. 

Dean Williamson will conduct. The stage designer is Erhard Rom, who has a quite a track record for ...

providing Wolf Trap Opera with visual stimulation (last month's high-tech, lots-of-flesh "Don Giovanni" reconfirmed that heartily).

Performances are Friday, Sunday and Aug. 11 in the Barns at Wolf Trap.

Here's a taste of the "The Rake's Progress," the opening scene from a 1990s Salzburg Festival production starring the great team of Dawn Upshaw and the late Jerry Hadley:



Posted by Tim Smith at 9:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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