The Rake’s Progress


Welsh National Opera (1996)

Directed by Matthew Warchus

Lighting design by Hugh Vanstone

Tom's 'progress' was stretched in time to span periods from the opera's original 1730s setting to it's opening night just over 200 years later. The correspondences worked well. The innocent Tom and Anne are discovered in the rural idyll of an 18th century painting; Tom's corruption begins in the brothels of the decadent 1780s; he dreams his crazy machine at the height of the industrial revolution, his gamble with the devil plays out on a Somme battlefield, and his decline into madness brings him finally to the grim psychiatric wards of the 1950s.

The design also progressed from painterliness through early photographic imagery to cinematic framing in the final scenes.

“Witty, tender inspired. Laura Hopkins’s designs infallibly charted the rake’s progress from the green sylvan landscape of the opening to the bare and grim austerity of Bedlam. The whole enterprise is an encouraging example of music, production and design working together in the service of a masterpiece, with all egos firmly suppressed.” 

The Sunday Review

“A beautiful and intelligent production…Laura Hopkins produces a marvellous series of tableau settings.”

The Independent