Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress review: It really touches the heart | Theatre | Entertainment


The crumbling facade of one of the oldest music halls in the world could well have been a haunt of idle young Tom Rakewell who comes to London in search of celebrity. 

As his chief adviser is one Nick Shadow, you know it won’t end well. 

OperaGlass Works, founded by actor Selina Cadell and dramaturg Eliza Thompson, has assembled an impressive cast that includes tenor Robert Murray as Tom, Susanna Hurrell as his wife Anne Trulove, and bass Jonathan Lemalu as Nick Shadow. 

Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings conducts the Southbank Sinfonia from the harpsichord, looking so like Handel in his velvet cap.  

The music is far from baroque, though Stravinsky begins with a trumpet fanfare that is a tribute to Monteverdi’s Orfeo. 

Premiered in 1951, with libretto by WH Auden and Chester Kallman, the score mingles jazz with atonal effects as Tom is led to perdition by Lemalu’s insidious Devil. 

Victoria Simmonds is lively as Baba the Turk, the bearded lady whom Tom “marries” to make headlines. 

The last scene, as Tom escapes the Devil’s clutches but loses his mind, is the one moment in the pitiless dissection of folly that really touches the heart. 

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