Tom, a happy go lucky young man, is in love with a young girl, Anne, but Anne’s father, Truelove, has doubts about Tom’s character. Truelove urges Tom to find a “real” job, but Tom is resistant and would rather rely on luck than work to make money. When Tom makes a wish that he had money, a mysterious man, Nick Shadow, appears and tells Tom that an unknown uncle has left him a substantial fortune. Tom is very excited by his luck and heads of to London with Shadow to collect his fortune. London holds many trials and temptations for Tom and he quickly assumes the lifestyle of a rake. He finds himself in brothels, gambling, and even marries Baba the Turk, a bearded show woman. He seems to have lost his way and forgotten Anne, but Anne braves the city to find Tom and try and help him turn his life back around.
Stravinsky’s neo-classical score is a different kind of treat for opera lovers, but a most pleasing one. He plays with the classical style and more modern harmonies, he writes a through-composed opera, but has many elements of the classical style, and he even includes dialogue to keep the lighter feel of an operetta. The Rake’s Progress is a masterpiece by one of the 20th Century’s greatest composers and is a piece that will intrigue you musically, while compelling you to care deeply for its flawed protagonist.