The University of Michigan University Opera Theatre presents Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress. A cautionary tale about a life of indulgence, The Rake’s Progress plays March 22 at 7:30PM, March 23 & 24 at 8PM, and March 25 at 2PM at the Mendelssohn Theatre in Ann Arbor. Associate Professor of Music Robert Swedberg, whose work was last seen in Little Women in March 2011, directs. Martin Katz, Professor of Music, conducts the University Philharmonia Orchestra. The opera is double cast. Sung in English, the performances will feature supertitles by Professor Swedberg.
Composer Igor Stravinsky is one of the giants of 20th century music. Born in St. Petersburg, he emigrated to the United States in 1938. He composed extensively for dance, including The Firebird and The Rite of Spring for Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes and Perséphone and Agon with George Balanchine. His only full-length opera, The Rake’s Progress, was inspired by a series of engravings by English painter William Hogarth (1697-1764). Created as an illustrated story, the precursor to comic strips and graphic novels, Hogarth’s prints were widely circulated and popular throughout England. When Stravinsky recognized the potential for an opera within Hogarth’s series, his friend Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) recommended British poet W. H. Auden as librettist, who later brought his lover Chester Kallman into the project. Over a three-year period, the trio worked on the project. The opera premiered at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice in September, 1951, with the composer conducting.
Joining Swedberg and Katz on the artistic team is guest scenic designer Russ Jones, an Associate Professor of Theatre at Purdue University, with projection designs by guest Lisa Buck. Christianne Myers, Assistant Professor of Theatre, designs costumes with a lighting design by junior Engineering student Charles Malott, who both worked previously on Trumpets and Raspberries. Wig and makeup design is by Erin Kennedy Lunsford (Falstaff). The Assistant Conductor, Yaniv Segal, a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in conducting, will conduct the performance on Sunday, March 25.
Following the performance on Friday, March 23, there will be a post-performance discussion moderated by Swedberg and featuring members of the cast. Curtain Call Fridays offer an opportunity for audience members to talk with artists about each production. Sponsored by the Friends of Opera, the discussions are free and open to all.
Tickets for The Rake’s Progress are $26 and $20 reserved seating with students $10 with ID. Tickets are available in person at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League. The Ticket Office is open from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538. All major credit cards are accepted. Tickets may also be ordered here. The Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, located within the Michigan League at 911 N. University Ave., is accessible to patrons in wheelchairs and features an infrared assisted listening system.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Rake's Progress, visit the School of Music, Theatre & Dance blog.