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Stravinsky's most famous opera, The Rake's Progress, inspired by a series of 18th century paintings by William Hogarth, is presented in a new production by Victorian Opera

A rake is "a fashionable or stylish man of dissolute or promiscuous habits", according the folk at Oxford. Hogarth famously showed us the 18th century version, but what does a modern rake look like?

"There's definitely something preppy about him," says Leon Krasenstein, looking over his costume drawings for the show. "At the beginning he is still in a country landscape, so I used a lot of tartans — but it's twisted and made 'country cool'. The fabric for the trousers is kind of like a Burberry pattern."

Leon is a set and costume designer much in-demand for his ebullience and enthusiasm. He is passionate about surfaces.

He describes his work as sculptural and pattern-based: "I love texture. I love detail. I hate things that are flat. I hate things that bounce. I love going into a world of detail. But at the same time I hate sitting in an audience where I don't get the same experience sitting at the back as I someone sitting in the front row, so I always try and pump in more texture, because you can never get enough."

His passion drives him to go the extra yard to get exactly the results he desires. Not only has he designed all the costumes himself, but he has also digitally designed and printed all the fabrics for the show.

"As more and more fabric shops close, I struggle to find exactly the fabric that is in my head. So for this project I've just gone to town. I've designed a stylised large-scale print for each character, something that captures who they are, kind of like a signature."

The story of Tom Rakewell's descent into debauchery and madness – with a famous libretto by WH Auden – will be directed by Bell Shakespeare's John Bell and conducted by Richard Gill.

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By Andrew Fuhrmann   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

The Rake's Progress video

The Rake's Progress details

100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004

Telephone 1300 182 183

Nearby Stations: Flinders Street

Price $35.00 to $171.00

Date 17 Mar 2012-27 Mar 2012

Open Various

Director: John Bell

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