“Hogarth's Rakes's Progress paintings, which I saw in 1947 on a chance visit to the Chicago Art Institute, immediately suggested a series of operatic scenes to me.” (Stravinsky & Craft, 1960). By 1947 Stravinsky's career, which had started so brilliantly and stormily with the revolutionary Rite of Spring, was almost totally becalmed. Since emigrating from Paris to California in 1940, he had written a couple of untempestuous orchestral pieces, Circus Polka, “composed for a young elephant”, and little else. He was depressed by the lack of originality of his work and was eager to write an opera in English. When he saw the paintings of the Rake's Progress, he seized his opportunity.
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