Rake's Progress

Garsington Opera 2008

Sunday Times

a striking‚ modern-dress staging of The Rake’s Progress by Olivia Fuchs. With her designer‚ Niki Turner‚ Fuchs brings Auden and Kallman’s Hogarth-inspired text closer to the period of the composition (the middle of the 20th century) with sinister bowler-hatted extras playing Nick Shadow’s diabolical helpers as a cross between figures in a Magritte painting and the murderous yobs in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Tom Rakewell’s descent from ambitious rural loafer to acquisitive man about town‚ ruined entrepreneur and madman is unerringly charted in this pitiless staging


In Olivia Fuchs’s terrific production‚ the tiny stage is dressed like a bucolic parody‚ only to have the roaring boys and whores of London rip it apart and spirit us to punk hell for Tom Rakewell’s arrival in the capital of self-indulgence. Nudging him gently down the slippery slope to ruin was our master of ceremonies‚ Nick Shadow‚ in one of the best performances I’ve seen in the role. His physical and vocal presence made it totally credible that Rakewell should hang on his every word. And his over-familiar tactility towards his charge made the betrayal all the more chilling. The extraordinary lullaby of farewell to Rakewell by Anne Trulove had a chaste beauty heightened by Fuchs’s outstanding chorus work‚ which made something moving and poetic of the harrowing denouement in Bedlam

Independent on Sunday

For a more rigorous examination of virtue scorned‚ you should head to the countryside‚ where Olivia Fuchs’s stylish production of The Rake’s Progress....Smartly designed and lit by Niki Turner and Bruno Poet‚ Fuchs’s Rake takes inspiration from surrealist art and 1980s pop culture. The whores and roaring boys are post-punk teens with sullen mouths‚ asymmetrical haircuts and ripped fishnets‚ Mother Goose is a bosomy Zandra Rhodes-Vivienne Westwood hybrid‚ while the three retainers who silently serve Nick Shadow sport ashen faces and Magritte bowler hats.


Hogarth himself might have applauded...Olivia Fuchs’s crisply satirical staging‚ expertly tailored to the semi-outdoors ambience of Garsington‚ ensures that the modern relevance of this dark parable comes across loud and clear...There are many such incidental delights in Fuchs’s staging


Olivia Fuchs and her designer Niki Turner set the opera within a gilded frame and update with bravado‚ handling the gang of punks and roaring boys with particular flair.

Seen & Heard International

From the moment that Christopher Purves - dressed in top hat and tails - stepped through the curtains of Garsington’s picture frame proscenium‚ to stand silently for a few moments smiling sardonically at the audience‚ it was obvious that this Rake would be something special. Olivia Fuchs’s brilliant production is confident and sure-footed‚ using every inch of the small stage space and nearby gardens in a totally coherent presentation of Tom Rakewell’s downfall. Complete with a fine set of principals and magnificent direction of the large and youthful chorus‚ Tom’s seduction by Nick Shadow and subsequent decline is marvellously portrayed; right from the opening master-stroke through to the epilogue warning that the devil finds work for idle hands. It is pacy‚ very funny and terribly sad by turns‚ a modern morality tale about super-rich celebrity.


Olivia Fuchs’s intelligent production...Fuchs never overplays the caricatures and brings a genuinely light touch to the set pieces...It all fits together seamlessly...The closing moments‚ as Anne says her final farewell to Tom‚ are genuinely touching in a way that the end of this often chilly opera rarely is.