Stravinsky’s opera The rake’s progress (1951, with libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallmann, is loosely inspired by a series of paintings by William Hogarth.
I got to know the opera in 1979 through playing it in the pit with Riccardo Chailly and the London Sinfonietta in Milan for La Scala, with sets by David Hockney. With performances only every couple of days, it made a wonderful three-week holiday, giving me my first opportunity to explore Milan and the nearby towns of north Italy (Cremona, Brescia, Bergamo, Verona, and so on), long before our 1990s’ tours of Mozart operas in Parma and Ferrara (for more Italian inspirations, see here). “But that’s not important right now“.
As ever, Richard Taruskin‘s perspectives on Stravinsky’s opera are stimulating (The danger of music, pp.109–17). It also gives me another pretext to admire the wonderful Barbara Hannigan—here she is in concert, singing, and conducting, Anne’s aria from Act 1:
To follow Susan MccLary’s incisive comments on the astounding use of the harpsichord in Brandenburg 5, I admire its sinister use in the Act 3 graveyard scene.
See also Stravinsky tag.