The Rake’s Progress

A bearded lady. A deal with the devil. A fabulously surreal set. Wonderful music. A love story. A tragedy. A cautionary tale. That is The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky, which I had the pleasure of seeing live at the Metropolitan Opera last night. The plot of this opera is a morality play in its most basic sense, but the twists and turns and vivid characters have to be seen to be believed. That is one of the things I love about opera. I can read the synopsis and say to myself, “Oh brother. This is truly ridiculous. It is never going to work.” And then within minutes, I have suspended all belief and I am completely entranced in the world created on the stage. The minutes — and in opera’s case, hours — slip by and I get the rare chance to live in an alternate reality in what almost seems like real time. In the case of this opera, it was also a teachable moment for all of us in the audience. In the epilogue, all the characters gather to impart the morals of this story, which include this warning: The devil finds work for idle hands. If there are any slackers out there who are reading this post, be very careful if someone by the name of Nick Shadow offers you a bargain that seems too good to be true!

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