Who would have guessed that Igor Stravinsky’s only full-scale opera would have to wait nearly 40 years to be heard professionally in the city of its conception? Who would have guessed that it would be not Lyric Opera or Chicago Opera Theater that would mount it, but Chicago’s 18th-century orchestra, the City Musick? If this production of The Rake’s Progress is anything like the magnificent Mozart Idomeneo City Musick presented at the Shedd Aquarium two years ago–and all indications are that it will be much more–this could well be the operatic highlight of the year. Inspired by Stravinsky’s 1947 visit to the Art Institute, where he came across the series of William Hogarth engravings called The Rake’s Progress, this is neoclassical Stravinsky par excellence, and shows a modern master paying tribute to 18th-century opera, complete with recitatives, arias, ensemble scenes, even harpsichord. It’s as if you’re looking at old conventions through a funhouse mirror. This rarely heard masterpiece is sung in English, a further plus, and is great fun. Conducted by artistic director Elaine Scott Banks, the cast includes soprano Alexandra Coku, baritone Daryl Henriksen, mezzo-soprano Jocelyn Wilkes, and tenor Frank Hoffmeister. Monday, Wednesday, and next Friday, March 23, 7:30 PM, and next Sunday, March 25, 3:30 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 5706 S. University; 489-2100.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Gordon Meyer.