Bitter parable, melancholic tale of post-war disenchantment but still valid for every possible contemporaneity, The Rake’s Progress it was rightly considered by Igor Stravinsky as “the most important work of my life”, provided that one decides to evaluate his seminal turn-of-the-century ballets in their own right. Precisely in the weeks of strong turbulence for the Florentine foundation, culminating in the resignation of the superintendent Alexander Pereira, replaced pro tempore by the extraordinary commissioner Onofrio Cutaia, the Maggio Fiorentino hits the mark with a second important show after the Doctor Faust by Busoni.
FRAMED in a singular Florentine Carnival festival dedicated to Faust by Goethe, The Rake’s Progress it was proposed from Sunday 12 to last March 26 in five performances that found the cornerstone of the production in the director Daniele Gatti. Gained in an attendance that from the years in Bologna reaches the Roman concertante recitals at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Gatti’s vision links a tight narrative without sacrificing the wonderful breaths and transparencies of orchestral writing. An incessant rhythmic game, stretched on the edge of a light blade, even when Stravinsky combines the tribute to the classical climate with moving or sumptuous densities of romantic opera-like timbral mixtures.
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The Magic of StravinskyONE CONCEPTION which finds a happy response in the agile and lively show by Frederic Wake-Walker, with sets and costumes by Anna Jones, who keeps the clownish trait within the limit of what is permitted. Even when she transforms Baba La Turca – Adriana Di Paola, sonorous and engaging – into a pop artist like Lady Gaga, not bearded but bald and a slave to social media, every step a photograph for the fans, amidst the comings and goings of parcel deliveries, the trait remains the acrid one of Hogart’s engravings, the same ones that Stravinsky had seen on display in Chicago, the original spark of the project for the work. The flow of colorful scenes, between neon and references to the Fifties, including the fraudulent machine that changes stones into bread, from the curves of a tin toy, is also completed with a measured and effective use of Ergo Phizmiz’s videos, especially when employed to break through the wall on a distant rural happiness.
It is the lost time of innocent love between Matthew Swensen’s swaggering Tom Rakewell and Sara Blanch’s Anne, warm and luminous voice. Vito Priante, Nick Shadow who rattles off the impeccable English of the formidable libretto, does not persist in looking for demonic nuances but leaves it to Auden and Kalkman to let the poison of deception filter through the persuasive song, until the trap is sprung in the cemetery scene, perhaps the best of the entire show. Also in sharp focus is the spirited Sellem by Christian Collia, the severe Father Trulove by James Platt and Marie Claude Chappuis, keeper of the brothel, with mocking shades and dressed as a luminous carousel. The audience celebrates everyone at the end, with ovations for orchestra, choir and Gatti.