- The Rake's Progress, opera in 3 acts
Never before has Stravinsky's opera masterpiece The Rake's Progress had as triumphantly lucid a recording as this. Gardiner, leading the supple virtuoso Monteverdi Choir and London Symphony Orchestra, offers a performance of exceptional clarity -- every word of the great Auden-Kallman libretto is audible. The singers all relish their parts, led by Bryn Terfel's devilish Nick Shadow, performed with Wagnerian verve. The pristine innocence of Deborah York's light soprano as Anne Trulove and Ian Bostridge's fluty tenor as Tom Rakewell make them vulnerably sympathetic young leads. Anne Sofie von Otter's interpretation of the bearded lady, Baba the Turk, as a Swedish lollapalooza is her liveliest incarnation on record to date. In this case, "Progress" is putting it mildly. This Rake has moved to the head of its class.
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Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Even for the most devoted Stravinsky fans his chief opera THE RAKE'S PROGRESS is too infrequently performed to satisfy the need for familiarity. Happily there are now recorded performances, both on CD and DVD, that assure that this glimmering little masterpiece will remain a staple of the opera repertoire. Having just absorbed a thoroughly engaging (if visually bizarre) production with the San Francisco Opera under the gifted baton of Donald Runnicles, the appetite is whetted enough to listen to the magic at home. And this recording is a strong one as conducted by John Eliot Gardner with the London Symphony Orchestra. One of the reasons this recording maintains its high standing among aficionados is the diction by the entire cast: WH Auden's libretto is clearly one of the true treasures in the operatic literature and the singers here allow us to understand even those passages where lines overlap. Ian Bostridge carries his sensitively nuanced approach to lieder to the role of Tom Rakewell and his tone is rich and full and his approach makes a credible Rakewell. Bryn Terfel is probably the finest Nick Shadow on the stage today, delivering his wily role with superb singing and flawless diction. Deborah York's very clean and crisp vocal technique is well suited to the constancy of Anne Truelove. The rest of the cast is equally well equipped for their strange roles, but in the end the kudos go to Gardiner and his fine crafting of the both the orchestra and chorus, coaxing an ebullient neoclassical sound from the colorful Stravinsky score. It is a pleasure from beginning to end. Grady Harp