Kent Nagano leads the Lyon Opera Orchestra, Chorus and a cast of great soloists in one of the best Rake recordings ever.
Nagano does all he can to emphasize the delightful grotesqueness of Stravinsky's late neoclassic style. The famous Act II, Scene 2 Finale where Baba unveils herself before the crowd comes off so well, you'll want to jump for joy!
Dawn Upshaw gives a spotless performance end-to-end; her voice lends the appropriate innocence to Ann Trulove's character. Hadley's experience in music theater (cf. Bernstein's Candide) is evident in his fumbling, bumbling, somewhat bombastic Tom Rakewell... One surmises his intonation is not perfect, but probably shouldn't be for the part anyhow.
Samuel Ramey can make you laugh and scare the daylights out of you with his deep, brooding Nick Shadow (the best rendering of this character ever, I think). Grace Bumbry is downright disgusting as Baba the Turk, playing up Baba's extravagent excess to a tee.
This is not a 'serious' Rake, but the Rake is not a serious opera... just a seriously good opera. The cast bring the heavy-handed moral and often silly themes to the fore in high theatrical style... as Stravinsky doubtless intended.
This is a great buy! - you won't be disappointed.