Like many operas, Stravinsky’s The rake’s progress is deeply flawed, confused, and contradictory. It presents an overextended musical pastiche, an overly clever libretto by W.H. Auden, and a grim view of human nature.
Yet the scenes of act 3 encompass comedy, dramatic tension, and lyrical pathos, and the opera redeems itself because it moves into its own Bedlam, the land of opera. Although the character of Baba the Turk remains enigmatic in the theater, she embodies the spirit of the opera. Baba was Auden’s way of asserting the power of art over nature.
This according to “Redeeming the rake” by David Schiff (The Atlantic monthly CCLXXX/5 [November 1997] pp. 136–139).
Below, Baba portrayed by Dagmar Pecková.