Samuel Barber's Vanessa

Friday, March 31, 2017 at 7:30pm & Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2pm

Student Night at the Opera Performance on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 7pm

A Semi-Staged Production

The Historic Valentine Theatre - Conducted by Sara Jobin - Directed by Kristine McIntyre

The third opera in Toledo Opera's ongoing series of works by American composers, Vanessa won Samuel Barber the Pulitzer Prize for composition in 1958 after the unqualified success of its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. A heart-breaking family drama, Vanessa will be directed by American opera specialist Kristine McIntyre in a semi-staged format. Action, costumes, and set pieces will be paired with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra on stage, with still and moving images projected behind the orchestra to establish the scenes. With a cast featuring star soprano, and Ohio native, Jennifer Rowley, world-renowned mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura, and rising tenor Sean Panikkar Vanessa is sure to be a powerful and unforgettable production.




By Samuel Barber

Giancarlo Menotti, librettist

Premiered 1958 at the Metropolitan Opera. Revised in 1964.

The action takes place at Vanessa's country home in a Scandanavian country about 1905.

Over twenty years ago Vanessa had a lover, Anatol, but he abandoned her. Convinced he would return, Vanessa has covered the mirrors throughout her home and refused all guests while she waits. She shares the house with her niece Erika and her mother, the Baroness, who refuses to speak to Vanessa.

Act I, Scene 1

The drawing room. A night in early winter.

A storm is raging outside and Vanessa has received word that Anatol, for whom she has waited over twenty years in isolation, will arrive soon. Erika, Vanessa’s niece, orders the servants to create an elaborate meal and attempts to calm Vanessa’s anxiety. Anatol arrives and Vanessa greets him alone. Before looking at him, she reminds him of her years of waiting and asks if his love is as it was. If it is not, he must leave. He answers that he believes he will love her but his voice makes Vanessa realize he is not who she expected. Vanessa runs away while Erika confronts the stranger, who explains he is Anatol’s son. He sits down to eat, asking Erika to join him.

Act I, Scene 2

The drawing room. Sunday morning. A month later.

Erika confesses to her grandmother, the Baroness, that she is in love with Anatol, who seduced her the night he arrived. He also proposed but Erika has not accepted him, worried that he won’t be faithful to her. Vanessa and Anatol return from ice skating and they are joined by the Doctor. Vanessa confides to Erika that Anatol is in love with her. The Baroness, learning of this, encourages Erika to confront the young man. Anatol once again proposes to Erika but says he cannot offer her eternal love. Their conversation is interrupted by Vanessa, who calls everyone away to the chapel. After they leave Erika declares that she will not marry Anatol.

Act II

The entrance hall with the ballroom beyond. New Year’s Eve.

The tipsy Doctor is looking forward to announcing Vanessa’s engagement to Anatol at the ball. Vanessa is disturbed by the absence of her mother and niece. Anatol reassures Vanessa of his love and they join the guests in the ballroom. As the Doctor makes the announcement, Erika appears at the top of the stairs and faints. When she regains consciousness she refuses help and, once alone, escapes into the night. The Baroness sees Erika run towards the lake and calls for help.

Act III, Scene 1

Erika’s bedroom. A few hours later, just before dawn.

Anatol and others are searching for Erika. Vanessa waits in anguish with her mother and the Doctor. Anatol returns with the unconscious Erika, found on the path to the lake. Vanessa demands to know if it was love for Anatol that caused Erika to run off. He denies it and Vanessa asks him to go away with her. Left alone with Erika, the Baroness asks why she tried to kill herself. Erika reveals she was pregnant but that the child will not be born. Her grandmother leaves the room without another word.

Act III, Scene 2

The drawing room. Late afternoon, a month later.

The newly married Anatol and Vanessa ready themselves to depart for their new home in Paris. Vanessa suspects Erika’s desperate act but readily believes Erika’s attempts to convince her otherwise. Anatol and Vanessa leave and Erika calls out Anatol’s name. The Baroness treats Erika with the same icy silence as Vanessa before her. Erika orders the mirrors covered and the gate locked declaring, “Now it is my turn to wait.”

Jennifer Rowley, soprano (Vanessa)

Soprano Jennifer Rowley’s triumphant Metropolitan Opera debut as Musetta in La bohème inspired universal critical praise. This season Rowley sings a trio of European performances as Leonora in Il trovatore at Opéra de Lille, Théâtre de Caen in France, and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg; the title role in Tosca at New Orleans Opera; Tove in Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP); and returns to The Metropolitan Opera for Bartlett Sher’s new production of Otello. Recent engagements included débuts as Musetta in La bohème at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Leonora in Il trovatore at the West Australian Opera in Perth, and the title role of Tosca at the Semperoper Dresden. She last appeared for Toledo Opera in the 2014 gala, Ladies in Red, and is a native of Vermillion, OH.

Christine Amon, mezzo-soprano (Erika)

Grand Rapids native Christine Amon is versatile mezzo-soprano excelling in opera, operetta, musical theater, and art song. This season, she will make her company debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel at Opera Louisiana and returns to Opera Memphis for their nationally acclaimed 30 Days of Opera. Last season, Christine joined the Mary Ragland Young Artist Program at Nashville Opera where she debuted as Edith in The Pirates of Penzance. Other credits include Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Giovanna and Paggio (Rigoletto), Peggy/Maybelle (Hoiby: This is the Rill Speaking) and Gianetta (L'elisir d'amore). Ms. Amon holds an Artist Diploma from The University of Memphis, a Masters of Music from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Music from Grand Valley State University.

Sean Panikkar, tenor (Anatol)

Sean Panikkar , the American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage, made his Metropolitan Opera debut under the baton of James Levine in Manon Lescaut and his European operatic debut in Mozart’s Zaïde at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in a production directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Louis Langrée.

Mr. Panikkar opened 2015-16 at Michigan Opera Theatre as Rodolfo in La bohème and continued the season in a return engagement with the Washington National Opera as The Leader in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars. Frequently showcased in contemporary music, the tenor created the role of Agent Henry Rathbone in David T. Little’s JFK at the Fort Worth Opera and assayed the title role of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown when Opera Theatre of St. Louis presented the world premiere.  Symphonic highlights of the season included Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Irina Mishura, mezzo-soprano (Baroness)

Russian-born mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura has established herself as one of the most important dramatic mezzo-sopranos singing today. Ms. Mishura is well-known to audiences throughout North America and Europe. She made an auspicious debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2000 when she appeared as Dalila in Samson et Dalila opposite Plácido Domingo. She has returned to the Metropolitan Opera every season and has added the roles of Princess Eboli in Don Carlo, Marina inBoris Godunov, Amneris, Frederica in Luisa Miller, La Cieca in La Gioconda and Madelon in Andrea Chenier. Recent performances include Herodias in Strauss’ Salome at the San Francisco Opera, at the Teatro Real Madrid, Maggio Musicale in Florence, and in London at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden - followed at ROH in a new production of Il Trittico at ROH.  Also, Ms. Mishura reprised of one of her signature roles, Azucena in Il Trovatore in Barcelona and New Orleans and in her Teatro Regio debut in Parma, Italy. Upcoming engagements include Salome in San Diego, Dialogues of the Carmelites in Toronto, Rusalka in Naples, and several concerts. She last appeared with Toledo Opera as Amneris in Aida (2013).

Sara Jobin, Conductor

Grammy-nominated conductor Sara Jobin has a passion for opera, new and American repertoire, and sacred music. In 2004 she had the honor of making history as the first woman to conduct mainstage subscription performances at San Francisco Opera, and has returned to their podium for 17 performances of five different productions since then. She is Chief Conductor of the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, Interim Resident Conductor of the Toledo Symphony, Associate Conductor of the Toledo Opera, has guest conducted in Pittsburgh, Arizona, Anchorage, Tacoma, and Idaho, and brought American opera to Europe and China. Her first full-length recording, the hilarious American opera Volpone by John Musto, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Opera Recording.

Kristine McIntyre, Stage Director

Stage director Kristine McIntyre has directed more than 70 operas across the U.S. with a focus on new, contemporary and American works. Productions include Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (Des Moines Metro Opera, Madison Opera), Jonathan Dove’s Flight (Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera), the world premier of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown (Lyric Opera of Kansas City), Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair (Lyric Opera of Kansas City) and Three Decembers (Des Moines Metro Opera), Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry (Tulsa Opera), Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men (Utah Opera, Austin Opera, Tulsa Opera), new productions of Street Scene, The Tender Land (Michigan Opera Theater) and Lee Hoiby's Bon Appétit and the world premier of The Canticle of the Black Madonna (Newmark Theater, Portland).

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