Wolf Trap Opera Company, or WTOC, closes its season with a production of Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" that bares the title character's excesses along the path from debauchery to ruin. Tenor Eric Barry revels in the role for its sweeping vocal styles and personality excesses.
"Tom Rakewell runs the gamut of emotional distress," Barry said. "He's a person everyone can connect to because we all wish we could be worldly and follow life's pleasures. Most of us have a threshold we won't cross. He has none. This allows me to show every facet of my voice. The last scene in Bedlam when I sing in falsetto, a complete juxtaposition of the earlier graveyard scene, is the final cherry on top. It seems very eerie after I've been singing in full voice.
"That final scene boils down to a moment when Tom's emotions come out. Even though he has thrown Anne Trulove out of his life, she wants him back but can't have him. It's all that Corinne Winters, who sings that role, can do to hold in the tears. Because we both have to keep it together while she is singing me to sleep, I think of her as a blank wall during that final aria."
This is Barry's second summer as a member of WTOC. Last season, he performed in both "Sweeney Todd" and "Le donne curiose" and participated in "Aria Jukebox," favorite arias chosen by the audience.
|'The Rake's Progress'|
|Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna|
|When: 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Aug. 11|
|Info: $35 to $85; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org|
When looking back at his turn as Tom Rakewell, Barry's most profound memory may well be the day he shaved off the beard he has been cultivating for the past eight years.
"My girlfriend likes it, so I'll probably grow it back," he said. "In the meantime, I'll enjoy wearing the gorgeous period costumes. They're London bespoke outfits, one a robe of beautiful blue crushed velvet, another a dapper London suit so nice I could wear it out on the street. We have the option of buying our costumes, something I'll have to think about."
Production Director Tara Faircloth, who shares Barry's impression of the protagonist, prepared the audience for his final scene by emphasizing the numerous times along the way when he could have turned dumb decisions into wise choices.
"Tom is a guy we all know," she said. "He's charming, good-looking and smart, but he never grasps the opportunities to redeem himself. Eric is a natural actor who has sympathy for the character and the ability to draw sympathy from the audience. Nick Shadow (Craig Colclough) is another character I put a lot of thought into. He reminds me of a Jeeves, or someone working as a servant at Downton Abbey. He's always saying, 'Yes, master, whatever you like.' But then the teeth come out."