Rake´s Progress at Danish Royal Opera Copenhagen – synopsis

Rake´s Progress at Danish Royal Opera Copenhagen - synopsis

Rake´s Progress at Danish Royal Opera Copenhagen – synopsis

Composer and librettist

Music: Igor Stravinsky|Lyrics: after a fabel by W.H Auden and Chester Kallman.


Libretto In English


First performance: 11 september 1951 på Teatro de La Fenice i Venedig.

Tom Rakewell wants to marry Anne Trulove, but her father is apprehensive. He suggests that Tom get a steady job, but Tom insists on trusting his luck and his intelligence. He is not interested in working, but he does need money. While he dreams of becoming rich,a man named Nick Shadow turns up and explains that Tom has inherited a large fortune from an unknown rich uncle. Nick offers his services to Tom as his manservant, and together they depart for London to settle the formalities of the inheritance.

Nick Shadow takes Tom to the London brothel of Mother Goose. Although Tom is uncomfortable with the situation and has qualms about Anne Trulove, he spends the night in the brothel. Meanwhile, Anne remains in the country and worries about Tom’s silence since he left for London. Sensing that he needs her help, she decides to leave for London and rescue Tom from the difficulties he must surely be in.

Tom is bored with his aimless life in London. He longs for happiness, and Nick Shadow proposes a strange solution: he must marry Baba the Turk, a bearded lady. When Anne finally arrives at Tom’s house in London, she finds that he has just married Baba. Tom asks her to leave. He immediately regrets his action and soon his eccentric life with the hysterics and incessant chatter of Bab the Turk becomes unbearable. He silences her verbal torrent by throwing a cloth over her face.

In his dreams, Tom sees Nick with a fantastic machine that seems to turn stones into bread. Tom cries out in his sleep that he wishes it were true.And waking, finds the machine he has dreamed about. Nick hints that Tom could become the saviour of mankind if he started to mass-produce the machines and Tom quickly takes up the idea.

Nick is deceiving him: the machine does not work and Tom goes bankrupt. Tom’s property is auctioned off – including Baba the Turk – who resumes her raving tirades as soon as the cloth is removed from her face. She advises the faithful Anne to find Tom and help him regain control of his life.She also warns Anne against Nick Shadow and then announces her intent to return to showbusiness.

At the cemetery, Nick reveals his identity and demands payment from Tom, in the form of his soul but as midnight strikes, Nick offers him an escape in the form of a game of cards, which Tom wins. Defeated, Nick sinks into the ground, condemning Tom to insanity as he goes.

Consigned to Bedlam, Tom believes he is Adonis.Anne (his “Venus”) visits him, sings him to sleep,then quietly leaves him. When he realizes she has gone, he dies.

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