The Rake at 35

David Hockney and John Cox’s production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress first saw the light of day at Glyndebourne in 1975 and there’s a video of it from back then.  It’s been revived umpteen times since, all with Cox directing rather than an overawed revival director.  It was done again in 2010, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting, recorded and issued on Blu-ray and DVD.  It’s fascinating.

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Hockney’s Flute

It seems to be “looking back at older Metropolitan Opera productions” week here in the blogosphere.  Over at The Earworm there’s a series of posts on a 1980 production of Don Carlos.  Our subject will be the 1991 Die Zauberflöte.

The production was designed by David Hockney and the look varies from the whimsical; the opening scene, to the grandiose; the final scene, with bits of Egyptiana in between.  It’s very handsome.  The direction is described as “original direction” by John Cox and “direction” by Guus Mostart.  I’m not entirely sure what this means as there doesn’t really seem to be a production concept and the Personeregie is pretty basic.  Basically it looks like acting is considered to be an optional extra.  Some of the singers are good actors and some don’t even try.  There’s no consistency.  The impression is that the “production” is just a backdrop for the singers to do their thing. Continue reading

Hockney’s Rake

Having watched quite a few opera recordings from the 70s and 80s recently I can well see why David Hockney’s designs for Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne were such a big deal back in the day. They look they were designed by an artist rather than being lifted from an expensive department store furniture catalogue. And, of course, they are still in use. Beyond the design issues, this has a kind of transitional feel as a production. Occasionally some acting breaks out and quite imaginative use is made of the chorus but there is a lot of “park and bark”; perhaps somewhat inevitable on the old, small Glyndebourne stage but very noticeable. It’s hard not to feel that director John Cox could have done a lot more with a neat staging and a talented cast.  Continue reading