The is the One to Have!
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far this 1996 Salzburg Festival production of 'The Rake's Progress', Stravinsky's 'Mozartian opera,' is the only one to make it to DVD. But frankly I don't think you need look any further; from the opening scene set in Tom's painter's studio (with Anne as his demure model) to the amusingly staged epilog that is an homage to that of 'Don Giovanni,' the production never flags, impelled smoothly by the alert conducting of Sylvain Cambreling. The production, conceived and directed by Peter Mussbach with set/costume design by Jörg Immendorff, goes from triumph to triumph. The stage action, scenery and costumes, although not always immediately clear in intent, are colorful, amusing, always engaging. The cast could hardly be bettered. Jerry Hadley, sometimes not a very inspired actor, makes a believable and sympathetically tragic Tom Rakewell in this tale of a young man ruined by wealth and temptation. His singing is pointed, if not always innately beautiful. Dawn Upshaw, as Anne Trulove, is delectable both visually and aurally. It is hard, frankly, to imagine a better Anne. Her two big scenes, 'No word from Tom ... I go, I go to him,' and 'Gently little boat' are beautifully sung and emotionally moving. Nick Shadow, sung by Monte Pederson kitted out as a kind of Daddy Warbucks, is both vocally superb and dramatically menacing. Contralto Jane Henschel as Baba the Turk is hilarious but also sings the part's coloratura as well as I've ever heard. Not a small woman, Henschel is light on her feet and her nimble moves onstage contribute conspicuously to her impersonation of the nattering bearded lady. Linda Ormiston's licentious Mother Goose, Barry Banks's oily Sellem, and Jonathan Best's stalwart Trulove contribute vocally and visually well-drawn characterizations to round out, along with the almost omnipresent Vienna State Opera chorus, a top-drawer cast.The production was directed for TV by Brian Large. Is there anyone better doing this sort of thing? If so, I don't know who. I give this DVD my strongest recommendation.Review by Scott Morrison."
An Opera's Regress
Mr. Philip D. Lambert | Melbourne, Australia | 04/27/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"How long, I wonder, until the Age of the Egotistical Director is behind us, and operas are once again staged with some attempt to reproduce their authors' intentions? The
Rake's Progress was conceived as a cautionary tale for the 20th century, framed within the discourse and ideas of the 18th century; Stravinsky took Mozart as his stylistic model, while Auden & Kallman took Voltaire, Kant & other Age of Enlightenment thinkers for theirs. The opera lives, breathes and finds its very being in an 18th century milieu, and any attempt to drag it from its natural habitat works against the authors' shared vision. In this absurdly hallucinogenic production Tom Rakewell is portrayed by Jerry Hadley rather like a pathetic middle aged rocker vainly impersonating John Travolta in Grease; apes follow him about for no apparent reason; Dawn Upshaw plays Anne, a respectable young woman of the landed gentry, in a blue night dress and bare feet from start to finish.
It is only the many fine vocal performances which offer any enjoyment in this abortion. Sadly, the one cast member who lets the team down is the undisciplined Hadley who too often throws phrases off as declamations, rather than simply singing them."
A Fantastic Rakewell
Spinto | ct | 09/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to caution people against being too close minded against this revolutionary staging of The Rakes Progress. Certainly it falls in places, but it is not a disgrace to anything. If people have seen it as such then they have merely closed their mind to the spirit of the piece.
For better or for worse, the Rakes Progress is a light hearted work. Yes it is touching, yes it is gripping and dramatic, but it is also light-hearted and cartoonish. Thus Charachters like Mother Goose and Baba the Turk. These are very fantastical personalities and here they are given a fantastical world to inhabit.
The conception of Tom Rakewell is more or less that of an irresponsible teen brought into our modern day in jeans and a tee. This is an excellent portrait of Tom. A disaffected youth with dillusions of grandeur. He is lazy, irresponsible and prone to fancy. In this way, a jeans wearing, lazy, post-modern kid, is pretty fantastic. Jerry Hadley, playing TOm rakewell, is the greatest that there have ever been. Listen to this tenor with your heart. He inhabits the lines with every bit of himself, changing from a endless palette of colors, from dark and sensuous, to pure beauty, to insane folkyness to stressed desperation to the collorless of pallor of an exestential soul in the void. I cried so often at Jerry Hadleys rake that I cannot conceive of calling his performance over the top. He is among the great Tenors of all time in creating Charachter, and having recently been able to learn from him, has confirmed his place as a great artist. Hadleys voice is not flexable nor does he poar out Cavaradossi tone... but he actually connects to the music.... go figure
Dawn Upshaw was a wonderful Anne. She was attractively attired in a white sun-dress. She added a touch of melancholy and cheekyness to Anne, who can be so one dimensional. And WHO CARES that she didn't dress like an aristocrat.... Why does a father have to be dressed in a suit to want his daugther to marry a decent man, and why does the daughter have to dress like a prude? The love between the girl in the sun-dress and the guy in the jeans was the sweet type of young love.. which many say is fleeting but many more say is the most wonderful illusion of happiness on the planet... it was touching.
I liked also the Shadow of Pederson. He was a subtle, verging on Bland Devil for a long time in the show, very camp and light. And all of the sudden the darkness came poaring out in the final scenes. Contrast that to Terfel who constantly seems to be fighting the nastiness of the charachter. They are both valid interpretations, I think.
As to the monkeys, well they were strange, but this is a strange story, of bearded mezzos, and devils, something out of Dr. Seuss... was put back into doctor seuss. I do not mean to discredit a more traditional staging of this piece. But there is a genuine ovation to be merited by this production... if you have an open mind.
AND OPERA IS NOT DEAD.... UNLESS YOU CONSTANTLY PRONOUNCE it dead every time you see something you don't like. We cannot possibly concieve how an opera "should" be, these are evolving and changing works.. which change with our own historical baggage and cultural sensibility. I am not a revisionist, nor do I like to see works raped of their context... but this cliked with me, maybe it was the passion and inspiration of Hadley that did it.