the rake's progress
cape town opera | baxter theatre | 2011
Stravinsky’s neoclassical masterpiece received its African premiere in an exuberantly post-modern production, which playfully combined 18th century and contemporary visual motifs in designs by Tina Driedijk, Maritha Visagie and Kobus Rossouw.
★★★★ “Operatic delight on all counts ... an evening of splendid entertainment as fresh young talent attacks Stravinski’s startling score. There could be no better director than Matthew Wild to undertake the staging of The Rake’s Progress: this young metteur en scène combines wit and insight in his approach to a complex work. His stylised evocation of 18th-century London, where the Rake’s descent is charted, as well as the deer-stocked country surrounding the anti-hero’s early, innocent amours with his true love, is enlivened by humour, while his slant on the Rake’s character is informed by compassion and intelligence. Best of all is the sly, discernible reference to the element of Game that recurs throughout the production: it starts with the crossword grid announcing the scene changes and characters, and is continued with dices, Monopoly houses and decks of cards in various sizes that season the action. Even the backdrop for the rural sequence has an element of fun, with its suggestion of paint-by-numbers.” CAPE ARGUS
“Much of the same creative team was responsible for last year’s splendid Il viaggio a Reims, a production that set an extremely high benchmark ... So, the first thing is to pay due recognition to the innovative artistic impulse of Khan and Wild in mounting, once again, the first South African run of an important opera by a major composer ... The second thing to do is to congratulate both of them on the maintaining the high standards set last year, both musically and dramatically ... Wild and Driedijk have altered the antique by employing sufficient 18th century anachronisms to render the piece nigh-timeless and, more pertinently, to accent its current pertinence. In this they have been aided by Bovim’s witty, beautifully mannered but occasionally laser-sharp choreography. These aspects do not detract from the integrity of the piece, and there are lovely design elements: the Scrabble-derived titles of the acts; the paint-by-numbers set backdrop; the dog-kennel housing of the London slums; the very latest cabriolet sedan chair. Costuming is equally intriguing.” CAPE TIMES
“Tom Rakewell’s life is a boardgame; he throws dice to choose his path through life. But the devil finds work for idle hands, and that’s precisely who he meets as he idly waits for better days. A Scrabble board is projected in neon light onto a screen as wide and high as the proscenium arch, with letters that move around to announce the following scene. On the stage a card game unfolds, Monopoly brings the promise of riches and dice dictate the road ahead. The world of Tom and his beloved, Anne Trulove, is shocking pink and turquoise, like candyfloss, and one wonders if Alice is going to wander into this wonderland. This is the milieu of director Matthew Wild’s production of Igor Stravinsky’s (1882 - 1971) The Rake’s Progress ... Like Stravinsky’s music and W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman’s libretto, Wild’s production is rich in references to everything from the Classical era to pop culture ... The Rake’s Progress is a unorthodox voyage of discovery away from the familiar, which every opera-lover should experience.” DIE BURGER