×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vanessa

For all Samuel Barber's skill as a spinner of memorable melody, success as an opera composer stopped just short of his doorstep. His two major efforts in the field do circulate on the strength of his fame in other regards. "Antony and Cleopatra" fares well, furthermore, for its scenic opportunities, and "Vanessa," his first major opera, thrives on the peculiar virtue of providing hobby-horse possibilities to leading singers somewhat past their vocal prime.

With:
Vanessa - Kiri Te Kanawa Anatol - John Matz Erika - Lucy Schaufer The Baroness - Rosalind Elias The Doctor - David Evitts

For all Samuel Barber’s skill as a spinner of memorable melody, success as an opera composer stopped just short of his doorstep. His two major efforts in the field do circulate on the strength of his fame in other regards. “Antony and Cleopatra” fares well, furthermore, for its scenic opportunities, and “Vanessa,” his first major opera, thrives on the peculiar virtue of providing hobby-horse possibilities to leading singers somewhat past their vocal prime. Currently the latter opera is stabled at the Los Angeles Opera, where New Zealand’s much-admired Kiri Te Kanawa, who owns up to 60, rides it very well.

Drawn by librettist Gian Carlo Menotti (himself no mean operatic composer) from one of Isak Dinesen’s gloom-drenched “Seven Gothic Tales,” the cynical plot steers lovelorn Vanessa, not yet recovered from a jilting 20 years earlier, into the arms of a suave gold digger while those around her stand idly by. Barber’s music, never less than professional and for the most part rather pretty, twitches this way and that and eventually fails to serve the strong plotline with music of a comparably strong point of view. The opera’s one famous scene is a brilliant quintet near the end in which major characters voice conflicting views of the ironic dilemma surrounding them in a hard-edged vocal counterpoint worthy of a latter-day Mozart.

Los Angeles Opera’s production, splendidly marshaled on the podium by Australia-born Simone Young and newly produced by John Cox, draws on sets and costumes from previous stagings at Monte Carlo and Strasbourg. Included among the current performers is veteran mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, cast as the elderly Baroness (mother of Vanessa), who appeared in the 1958 Metropolitan Opera premiere of the opera as the ingenue Erika. That latter role is now strongly sung by Lucy Schaufer, with John Matz as the philandering Anatol.

Vanessa

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 3,098 seats, $190 top

Production: Los Angeles Opera presents Samuel Barber's four-act opera, libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti. Conductor, Simone Young, with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Director, John Cox.

Crew: Set and costume designer, Paul Brown; lighting designer, Paul Pyant; choreographer, Peggy Hickey. Opened and reviewed, Nov. 27, 2004; runs through Dec. 18. Running time: 2 HOURS, 40 MIN.

Cast: Vanessa - Kiri Te Kanawa Anatol - John Matz Erika - Lucy Schaufer The Baroness - Rosalind Elias The Doctor - David EvittsWith: David Babinet, Peter Nathan Foltz.

More Scene

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    Rebel Wilson on Twitter Gaffe: 'It Was Purely to Lift My Fellow Plus-Size Women Up'

    “I obviously misspoke in that situation,” Rebel Wilson told Variety at the premiere of her latest film “Isn’t It Romantic” Monday, acknowledging the gaffe in which she claimed to be the first-ever plus-sized woman to star in a romantic comedy during an October appearance on “Ellen.” Following the comment, Wilson was met with criticism from Twitter [...]

  • NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11:

    How Lena Waithe Convinced Halle Berry to Team Up for 'Boomerang' TV Series

    Halle Berry wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of a “Boomerang” reboot. The 1992 romantic comedy, which starred Berry, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Givens, told the tale of cocky ad executive and insatiable ladies’ man Marcus (Murphy) who meets his match in his new boss Jacqueline (Givens) — an exec who treats him the same [...]

  • Rebel Wilson and Miley Cyrus'Isn't it

    Why Liam Hemsworth Wasn't at His 'Isn't It Romantic' Premiere, but Wife Miley Cyrus Was

    Liam Hemsworth had every intention of bringing his wife, Miley Cyrus, to Monday’s premiere of his new romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic.” However, the Aussie actor was forced to skip the evening because of some “health things.” That didn’t stop Cyrus from attended the red carpet shindig at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content