The Music Academy of the West will present an ambitious new production of Igor Stravinsky's neoclassical treasure The Rake's Progress in Santa Barbara's Granada Theatre at 7:30 pm on Friday, August 3, and at 2:30 pm on Sunday, August 5. Tickets for both performances start at $10. It will mark the first time that Stravinsky's landmark comic opera has been staged in the city.
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Conductor Alexander Lazarev will be joined by stage director David Paul, a Juilliard faculty member who has directed concerts for the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Mr. Lazarev, former artistic director of Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, garnered rave reviews in 2007 when he conducted Rake at Opera National de Lyon.
That same year he helped bring the Music Academy's 60th anniversary season to a stirring conclusion, leading the Academy Festival Orchestra in a spirited performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. The Rake's Progress has particular resonance for world-renowned mezzo-soprano and Music Academy Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne, whose early career was nurtured by Stravinsky in the mid-1950s.
Featuring a libretto by poets W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, The Rake's Progress was first performed in Venice in 1951.
Celebrated music critic Ted Libbey has called the virtuosic three-act comedy "one of the indisputable masterpieces of 20th-century opera, a fresh and unique fusion of familiar musical, theatrical, and scenic elements with a wild libretto and a vivacious score in Stravinsky's most scintillating neoclassical idiom." Based loosely on a similarly titled series of satirical paintings and engravings by William Hogarth (1697-1764), Stravinsky's opera concerns the descent into ruin of Tom Rakewell, who abandons his fiancee and is enticed into a life of dissolute misadventure by the devil - in the guise of the mysterious Nick Shadow - before being consigned to a psychiatric hospital.
The 23 Academy Fellows who will perform in the production - chosen from among 511 applicants as part of the Academy's Voice Program audition process - represent some of today's finest young singing talent. The 45-member opera orchestra will consist of Music Academy instrumental Fellows.
The Granada Theatre is located at 1214 State Street in Santa Barbara.
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