Today we’re listening to…
“No word from Tom" a soprano aria from Act I of the English opera The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky. Renée Fleming is singing the role of Anne Truelove here and while this role was original written for a lighter (and higher) voice type, I love Renée’s version. Her voice is so lush with just the right amount of shimmer and drama. While this opera was written in 1951, Stravinsky was influenced by composers like Mozart. If you listen closely to the orchestra you will be able to hear classical elements and more modern elements stitched together to form the neoclassical style that Stravinsky was known for. The Rake’s Progress is the only full-length opera that Stravinsky wrote.
“🎧 Listen here (8 minute listen):
The plot of The Rake’s Progress centers around the moral fall of a flawed character (and it is pure opera!) Anne Trulove has been waiting for Tom Rakewell’s return from London where he traveled to claim an inherited fortune from his uncle. She is worried about him because she has not heard anything from him since he arrived there. Torn between going after him and caring for her father, she finally decides that her love for him is too much to ignore and she must go to him.
No word from Tom.
Has love no voice?
Can love not keep a May-time vow in cities?
Fades it as the rose cut for a rich display?
But no! To weep is not enough.
He needs my help.
Love hears, love knows,
Love answers him
across the silent miles and goes.
This piece is broken out into three distinct parts that dramatize Anne’s decision to venture to London to find Tom. The first is the recitative (No word from Tom), the second is the aria (Quietly Night) and the third is the cabaletta (I go, I go to him).
The word “rake” here means someone who behaves in an immoral way. “A rake can be found wasting his inherited fortune on gambling, wine, women, clothes or other entertainment in gross excess.”
If you enjoy Renée Fleming (as much as I clearly do!), she is doing a live streamed recital with The Metropolitan Opera this Saturday, August 1st at 1pm ET.
Thank you for listening,