Beautifully produced and sung, though the ending is a disappointment
The more I hear of Stravinsky's work, the more I appreciate it. He has never been one of my favourites, but I don't dislike him either. The Rake's Progress is one of my favourite works of his, the music is wonderful and the story compelling. Inger Aby's version here is not on par with the brilliant 1975 Glyndebourne production with Leo Goeke, Felicity Lott, Samuel Ramey and Richard Van Allan. Father Trulove is sorely missed, I always liked his sternness and sympathy, as is the Bedlam scene. But the biggest problem is the ending, the final epilogue really adds to the emotional impact of the opera and to replace it with just Tom's death because the epilogue apparently had no cinematic purpose(which I disagree with personally) was nowhere near as emotional and it didn't make as much sense either.
On the plus side, the visuals and musical values cannot be faulted. This Rake's Progress does look really beautiful, the costumes are flattering and sumptuous and the scenery has colour and no sense of drabness. It is photographed skillfully as well. The orchestral playing do more than justice to Stravinsky's score, playing with a lovely yet incisive sound, while Esa-Pekka Salonen's conducting vigorous and nuanced. The dramatic elements are more than convincing, even though the graveyard scene has some cuts it still has that eerie feel. The singing is next to faultless as well. Hakan Hagagard's voice mayn't be quite as good as it was in the 80s, plus he has Ramey for Glyndebourne to compete with, but his Nick Shadow is still outstanding, very smarmy and sonorously sung. Barbara Hendricks is a beautifully subdued Anna and Brian Asawa really sinks his teeth into the role of Baba the Turk and is wickedly funny. Greg Fedderly is dashing and well-sung as Tom, if not as moving as Goeke.
All in all, the ending disappoints but there is still much to like. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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