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Music Text

Libretto by W H Auden and Chester Kallman (E,Cz,F,G,I)


Major roles: lyrS,dramM,hT,Bar; minor roles: A,T,2B; chorus
2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2.2- bell/cuckoo-hpd(or pft)-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

World Premiere
Teatro la Fenice, Venice
Carl Ebert, dir / Nicola Benois, prod / Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Milan / Igor Stravinsky
Programme Note

One inspiration for this "moral fable" in "Italian-Mozartian" style ("I will lace each aria into a tight corset") was Hogarth's series tracking the downfall of Tom Rakewell, who squanders his inheritance on women, gambling, and drink and dies in a madhouse. In Auden's much admired libretto, Tom is equipped with a sporadic moral conscience, as well as a satanic alter ego: Nick Shadow. As in Oedipus Rex, man is here a victim of implacable forces that control and crush him. But Anne Trulove, steadfast in devotion, rescues Tom's soul. The pervasive detachment of Stravinsky's score doubles the pathos of Anne's final lullaby.

Reproduction Rights:
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to Boosey & Hawkes / Joseph Horowitz.

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