The Rake’s Progress
Scene at CFA
Boston University Opera Institute & School of Theatre present Stravinsky masterpiece, The Rake’s Progress, in Booth Theatre
Over the course of The Rake’s Progress, the audience watches a man fall into debauchery and madness. The opera’s music is layered with dissonance, its soaring arias punctured with loss and longing, and its morals forced home in an epilogue: “For idle hands and hearts and minds,” the characters come together to say, “the Devil finds a work to do.”
The CFA Opera Institute’s 2020 production of the Igor Stravinsky masterpiece, which is based on a series of paintings and engravings by William Hogarth, used the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre’s configuration to cast the audience into Tom Rakewell’s descent. Frenetic line drawings were scrawled on set walls and floors, audience seating was pushed through the proscenium, and actors moved about between three levels. The audience was given no escape from Rakewell’s journey to insanity as—at the encouragement of the sinister Nick Shadow—he swapped an idyllic life with a kindhearted fiancée for a stop at a brothel and marriage to a bearded woman. And they sat with him as he paid the price of his indulgence, with white lights spotlighting him on the graffitied floor of his asylum cell.
In the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Lee Eiseman called the Opera Institute’s production an “effective reimagining” of the 1951 work, complimenting it as “an advanced workshop show satisfying to discerning patrons.”