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The Rake's Progress

An dramatic opera

Music by Igor Stravinsky

Libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman

Abandoning home & fiancée in search of his fortune, an adventurer finds that debauchery and corruption are fun for only so long.

Sung in English with projected supertitles

March 22-25, 2012

University Opera Theatre & University Philharmonia Orchestra

Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre


The Story: A callow young man, Tom Rakewell, is convinced that good fortune will simply come his way. His loving fiancée Anne Trulove stands by him, but her father is not so easily swayed. When a mysterious stranger, Nick Shadow, announces that Tom has inherited a fortune from an unknown relative, Tom willfully abandons Anne and sets off to London. Once there, the gullible Tom is lured by Shadow into a life of debauchery. As each incident leads to increased unhappiness and deepening humiliation, Tom is unable to bring himself to return to Anne, even though she attempts to save him. When the devilish Shadow offers him a way out, Tom finds himself in a game of chance with extraordinarily high stakes.

Background: Igor Stravinsky is considered to be one of the most influential composers of 20th century music. His only full-length opera, The Rake’s Progress, which premiered in 1951, was inspired by a series of engravings by English painter William Hogarth. Collaborating with poets W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, Stravinksy infused the score with his own signature neo-classical approach while paying homage to the works of Mozart, Handel, and Verdi. Musicologist Gunther Schuller described the opera as “an extraordinary love affair with harmony… ravishingly beautiful sounds, filtered and savored by one of the greatest musical ears of all time.” Featuring a melodic score paired with a witty libretto The Rake’s Progress is a cautionary tale about a life of indulgence.


Artistic Staff

Director Robert Swedberg
Conductor Martin Katz
Scenic Designer Russ Jones
Costume Designer Christianne Myers
Lighting Designer Charles Malott
Sound Designer Roger Arnett
Wig Designer Erin Kennedy Lunsford
Stage Manager

Kelsy Durkin


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Click here to view photos from The Rake's Progress


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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower