The Rake’s Progress, Composed by Igor Stravinsky, Directed by Peter Sellars, Costumes by Dunya Ramicova
L.A. Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, 1995
Stravinsky’s score of The Rake’s Progress borrows liberally from Mozart’s operas and W.H. Auden’s poetry describes the debauchery of the rococo with beautiful cynicism. Instead of the usual white wigs and pink frills, Mr. Sellars set the production in a modern Californian prison system. By casting the women’s chorus as the prison guards and the men’s chorus as the inmates, he raised the subtext of the (literal) battle of the sexes.
I researched the symbolism of gang and prison tattoos and worked closely with the French makup artists to create reusable tattoo stencils. The biggest challenge was to have the guards' costumes (including gun belts, hand cuffs, and billy clubs) pass through French customs. I was hired as the Assistant Designer to Ms. Ramicova and felt honored to be able to work with such a distinguished cast. The talented and kind Dawn Upshaw, brilliant Denyce Graves, charming Paul Groves and friendly Willard White made the whole rehearsal process a pleasure.