Closing of The Rake's Progress
December 09, 2007
* Notes *
The Rake's Progress closed today with a Sunday matinée, and to my surprise, I attended, as I was offered a seat from a friend. This season I have avoided Sunday performances, as they are extraordinarily popular. Also, the last performances at the end of the year are crowded, after my experience with the closing of Carmen last year, I was not too keen on experiencing something like that again. The staging went well today, I did not hear any stage managers and the only thing that was really loud was when they were placing the trailer. The set is clever, and this production is a testament to how one can have both novelty and invention without distracting from the drama and music. The only truly weak part may have been the Bedlam scene, though I appreciate that the persistence of certain stage elements must have been important to the set designer and director. The sunken area of the lunatic asylum is clearly the same space delineated in the earlier swimming pool scene. Unfortunately, having the singers in that small space, the chorus and the principals, was strange. Worse, it cut them off from the audience, and lowered the dramatic tension. Perhaps the scene read better in the balcony.
The orchestra sounded better than opening night, but not quite up to their very best. I consistently found both James Morris (Nick Shadow) and Trulove (Kevin Langan) more difficult to hear than the other lead singers. Morris has had perfect comic timing throughout. Langan's acting was good, suitably skeptical of Tom in the beginning, sympathetic at the madhouse. Denyce Graves had a huge presence and I especially adored her in "You Love Him, Seek To Set Him Right." At times her voice was somewhat harsh, but it was fine for this role. Laura Aikin's high notes were lovely, her Anne Trulove never had too much vibrato. William Burden was marvelous in the title role, his voice lucid and his acting brilliant.
* Tattling *
A young woman in Box W arrived late, and she took off one of her shoes and put her foot on an empty chair. She was unable to do this during the second half of the opera, as people were seated in the second row (she was in the third). After the opera, I noticed she was limping, so it was probably a sprain.
The costume for Nick Shadow in his last scene is a red unitard covered with strips of material. I believe it is meant to make him look as if he is being consumed in flames, but to me it just looks like a chicken suit.
For my own amusement, I tried to dress like a 1940s Hollywood starlet, wearing my hair in the manner of Veronica Lake. Baritone Frederick Matthews complimented my shoes.