After seeing the original pieces in an exhibit in Chicago, composer Igor Stravinsky adapted the story into 1951’s Rake’s Progress opera a neo-classical satire and a modern classic. The 1975 Glyndebourne Operaproduction by English artist David Hockney is a classic in its own right too… As a demonstration of how intrinsically linked this production has become to the opera, this video from Glyndebourne is as much about the production’s creation by Hockney and director John Cox as it is about the music and opera itself:
More recently, the earlier The Harlot’s Progress was adapted into an opera in six scenes (mirroring the original cycle of six paintings) by 34-year old English composer Iain Bell, premiering just last year at Theater an der Wien in Vienna with German soprano Diana Damrau creating the title role. Unlike Stravinsky’s more comical take, Bell apparently had an unremittingly bleak vision for his Hogarth opera, but it seems to have beenprettywellreceived…
Is it any wonder an artist who pioneered narrative paintings would be an inspiration to modern composers? Only a shame Hogarth didn’t create more cycles to be adapted!
Then on Monday, via the internet, you can see Glyndebourne‘s 2010 production of Benjamin Britten‘s Billy Budd (lots of B–alliteration), fitting for his centennial year. They just say that the webcast will be at “lunchtime”… Greenwich Mean Time, I presume…
This was Rameau‘s first opera, written when he was 50, and it set off a great divide between more traditional operatic followers of Lully, who established the conventions of French opera, and the “Ramoneurs” who appreciated Rameau‘s inventive and chock-block full-o’-hits creation.
As you can see, the Glyndebourne production is for some reason set in a refrigerator… But at any rate, you should get a nice musical performance to complement the wacky stage direction, since Buffalo-born master of the French Baroque William Christie is conducting.
Come for the questionable puns, stay for the free opera…
Tomorrow morning, Glyndebourne will be streaming an opera from the vaults, the 2009 production of Verdi‘s final opera, Falstaff. From this page click “Watch Online” for the video and more details (including the actual time).
Whoops, forgot to post about this earlier, but today you can watch Richard Strauss‘ Ariadne auf Naxosonline, the first live-stream of the 2013 Glyndebourne season at 1:55 east coast time. I’ll be more on top of subsequent webcasts from Glyndebourne (also, this is my first Strauss post? yikes!).
Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne, 2013
If you’re aching for more, and more modern opera, after that, you can catch up with all the 2013 InsightALT festival events here.