The Rake´s Progress

Reading accompanied by music

Katharina Thalbach reads from
H. Auden and Chester Kallman’s libretto to
Igor Stravinsky’s opera

arranged by Gerhard Ahrens


music performed by

Narine Yeghiyan (soprano),
Florian Hoffmann (tenor),
Grigory Shkarupa (baritone)
and Günther Albers (piano)



Excerpts from the opera The Rake’s Progress

by Igor Stravinsky



The English painter William Hogarth produced his cycle of works entitled A Rake’s Progress in the 1730s. Two hundred years later, it inspired the composer Igor Stravinsky and his two librettists, the English poet W. H. Auden and the American author Chester Kallman, to write an opera called The Rake’s Progress, which premiered to great success in 1951. The storyline largely follows Hogarth’s cycle of eight paintings and engravings that depict the rise and fall of the ‘rake’ Tom Rakewell from London’s gambling houses and brothels to a lunatic asylum in graphic detail. Beyond Hogarth’s sequence of scenes, the opera’s storyline features references to various well-known opera plots, including the tale of a young man who deserts his lover for the big city as he has inherited a substantial sum of money, the Faust storyline of a pact with evil and the deserted lover’s subsequent descent into hell to save him through her song.

Katharina Thalbach comes from a family of thespians – her father was the director Benno Besson, her mother the actress Sabine Thalbach. She first performed on stage and in films at the age of five. The actress, who trained under Helene Weigel, has been a widely celebrated theatre and movie star ever since the 1960s; she has also been a successful director since the 1980s.

The reading will be accompanied by musical excerpts from Igor Stravinsky’s opera, which was a worldwide success. These will be performed by members of the Staatsoper Berlin orchestra, brought together for this purpose by conductor and pianist Günther Albers, who was a member of the Staatsoper Berlin orchestra until 2015 before taking up a professorship at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt am Main: the Armenian soprano Narine Yeghiyan, who came to Berlin in 2009 following her initial training and some first concerts in Yerevan and has been very successful ever since, the tenor Florian Hoffmann, who performs regularly at the Bayreuth Festival, for example, and at Milan’s La Scala, and the Russian baritone Grigory Shkarupa, like Yeghiyan a former member of Daniel Barenboim’s opera studio who has since then sung numerous parts in Berlin to great acclaim.

The Rake´s Progress

Reading accompanied by music

  • Sunday, 11.09.2016
  • 17:00
  • Schinkel Church

to mark the opening of the exhibition
Life’s Vices. Prints by William Hogarth

(including exhibition)
Price group I: € 22 / concessions € 18
Price group II: € 18 / concessions € 14


Advance bookings

can be made on
+49 (0)33476 600-750