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, 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 début as Musetta (La bohème) inspired universal critical praise, with The New York Times raving that she “made a splash […] maneuvering flirtatiously through the crowds and singing with a vibrant, agile voice.” This season, Rowley returns to the Metropolitan Opera for productions of Cyrano and Guillaume Tell. She will also sing the soprano solo in Rutter’s Requiem with Mid-America Productions. Last season, Rowley sang a trio of European performances as Leonora (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; and returned to the Met for Bartlett Sher’s new production of Otello. Additional recent engagements included débuts as Musetta in La bohème at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Leonora (Il trovatore) at the West Australian Opera in Perth, and the title role of Tosca at the Semperoper Dresden. Ms. Rowley made her Carnegie Hall début singing Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra, followed by acclaimed performances at New York City Opera and the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Ms. Rowley has appeared with the Toledo Opera as Musetta (La bohème) and in the Ladies in Red Opera Gala.

Christine Amon, mezzo-soprano (Erika)

Praised for her “sweet, powerful voice,” Grand Rapids, MI native Christine Amon is a versatile mezzo-soprano excelling in opera, musical theater, and art song. Last season, she made her company debut as Hansel (Hansel and Gretel) with Opera Louisiane, and as Gretchen (The Student Prince) with Opera Grand Rapids. She also returned to Opera Memphis for their nationally recognized 30 Days of Opera program and joined the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for Handel's Messiah. In the 2014-2015 season, Ms. Amon made her Nashville Opera debut as Edith (The Pirates of Penzance). An Opera Memphis favorite, she has performed during the past four seasons in the title role in Hansel and Gretel, the wife in The Music Shop, and Pitti-Sing in Ned Canty's new production of The Mikado. Ms. Amon also created the role of Mich in Mich and the Moon (music by Jack Perla; libretto by Jerre Dye) in the premiere of The Ghosts of Crosstown. In 2012, Christine was a finalist in the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition hosted by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. In addition, she's been awarded first place in the The Beethoven Club of Memphis Young Artist Competition, Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Vocal Competition, and the Dr. Marjorie Conrad Art Song Competition.



Sean Panikkar, tenor (Anatol)

Sean Panikkar continues “to position himself as one of the stars of his generation... His voice is unassailable—firm, sturdy and clear, and he employs it with maximum dramatic versatility” (Opera News). The American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage made his Metropolitan Opera debut under the baton of James Levine in Manon Lescaut (commercially available on DVD on EMI), 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 (commercially available on DVD on Opus Arte). Mr. Panikkar returns to the Met in 2016-17 for Guillaume Tell, Jenůfa, and Roméo et Juliette and, in a re-engagement with Pittsburgh Opera, he creates the role of Wendell Smith in the world premiere of The Summer King by composer Daniel Sonenberg. The tenor joins Cincinnati Opera as Rodolfo in La bohème in a production conducted by Louis Langrée and returns to the role of Alfredo in La traviata for his debut at Opera Carolina. Highly prized as an interpreter of contemporary music on leading international stages, Mr. Panikkar created the roles of Adam in Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2 for a debut at Teatro alla Scala in a world premiere conducted by Cornelius Meister and directed by Robert Carsen, Agent Henry Rathbone in David T. Little’s JFK at the Fort Worth Opera, and he garnered passionate acclaim in the title role of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Kenneth Shaw, bass-baritone (The Old Doctor)    

American bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw, who has been hailed for his "strong, impassioned and lyrical" voice (Opera News), long ago established himself as one of America's most talented and versatile artists. He has performed with opera companies throughout North America to critical acclaim. He has sung nearly 70 leading roles in over 50 operas, as well as concerts and recitals across America, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom. A member of the distinguished voice faculty of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Mr. Shaw continues to sing professionally. He appeared frequently with the New Orleans Opera, where he sang Wolfram (Tannhäuser), Escamillo (Carmen), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), and Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro). With Opera Memphis he sang Rodrigo (Don Carlo), Valentin (Faust), and the title role in The Mikado. With Kentucky Opera his roles have included Jochanaan (Salome), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), and the title role in the world premiere of The Stone Man.

Jason Budd, bass (Nicholas)

Jason Budd recently made his South American debut as the title character in Verdi's Falstaff with Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil. His performances have garnered praise all over the globe, particularly in his specialty, the buffo roles. Other recent engagements include the title role in Britten's Noyes Fludde with Fremont Opera, Falstaff (The Merry Wives of Windsor) and Kecal (The Bartered Bride) both with Boston Midsummer Opera, Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Opera Western Reserve and Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro) with Cleveland Opera Theater, and performances in Detroit, Toledo, Maine, and California. Last summer, Mr. Budd returned to Boston Midsummer Opera for their double bill of Donizetti’s Il Campanello and L’Amico Fritz. He returns to Boston this summer as Doctor Dulcamara (The Elixir of Love). Mr. Budd most recently appeared with Toledo Opera as Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro.


Paul Grosvenor, bass-baritone (The Footman)

Paul Grosvenor, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, is currently a resident artist with Toledo Opera. Paul made his operatic debut as Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) with the Opera Theatre of the Rockies. In this upcoming summer, Paul will perform the role of Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni) and the title role in The Mikado at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. Most recently, he performed the role of Bob (The Old Maid and the Thief) and Mr. Gobineau (The Medium) with Detroit’s Opera MODO.  He has also performed the role of Frank (Die Fledermaus), and Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, where he performed the title role of Gianni Schicchi, Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Lakai (Ariadne auf Naxos), Masetto (Don Giovanni), and as the bass soloist in Verdi’s Requiem. He was also invited to sing excerpts from Don Giovanni on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in February 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, conducting Tosca with Carol Vaness and Der fliegende Holländer with Nina Stemme, and has returned to their podium for 16 performances of five different productions since then. She is Chief Conductor of the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, Resident Conductor of the Toledo Symphony, and Associate Conductor of the Toledo Opera and has guest conducted the opera companies in Arizona, Baltimore (where she was again the first woman), Pittsburgh, Santa Barbara, Anchorage, Tacoma, and Idaho. She has also conducted the Dayton Philharmonic, Symphony Silicon Valley, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the Bochumer Philharmoniker. Her first full-length recording, the comedy Volpone by John Musto, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Her discography also includes a Brubeck premiere with beloved mezzo Frederica von Stade. As a freelancer Ms. Jobin particularly seeks out projects that increase cross cultural or interfaith understanding. Recently she led a performance of the Bach B minor Mass at Dachau in memory of Noorunisa Inayat Khan, a Sufi Muslim who gave her life as a British spy in WWII.

Kristine McIntyre, Stage Director

Opera and theatre director Kristine McIntyre has directed more than 75 operas across the U.S. with a focus on new, contemporary and American works including Dead Man Walking, Flight, Soldier Songs, The End of the Affair, Three Decembers, Elmer Gantry, Of Mice and Men, The Tender Land, Street Scene, Bon Appétit and the world premieres of Jane Eyre, John Brown, The Place Where You Started and The Canticle of the Black Madonna. Other recent productions include: Manon, Jenůfa, The Tales of Hoffmann, Peter Grimes, Eugene Onegin, The Turn of the Screw, Un Ballo in Maschera, Tosca, Werther and Il ritornia d'Ulisse in patria; multiple productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, La bohème, and Così fan Tutte; a new American setting of Hansel and Gretel and a film-noir adaptation of Don Giovanni. Ms. McIntyre began her career at San Francisco Opera and was a staff stage director for the Metropolitan Opera where she directed revivals in New York, on tour in Japan, and for HD broadcasts. Upcoming projects include Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas, revivals of her Manon and Don Giovanni productions, a new Billy Budd, and a new production of Jake Heggie's Moby Dick to premiere in January 2018.


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