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Posted October 1, 2010
I first heard of this opera looking through a list of the great composers and their works, and under the American composer Samuel Barber I found reference to an English opera called Vanessa. A good or even adequate English opera is rare to say the least but this tops most. (Besides Dido and Aeneas.) This piece is particularly great, still retaining the greatest properties of romantic opera as with Puccini and Wagner, despite it being composed in the late ages of jazz and such. The story is morbidly romantic and the music is very dark and erratic, involving a strange love triangle between an eccentric noblewoman of great beauty (Vanessa),the son of her dead lover (Anatol), and Vanessa's loyal but hopelessly depressed neice Erika-- When the opera opens, Vanessa has been waiting twenty years for her lover to return, she has covered the mirrors and merely waited the whole time-- her mother refusing to speak with her, in order to keep her beaty. Anatol, her lover's son comes in a winter's storm and Vanessa believes him his father, but soon notices this ''impostor'' and runs off upstairs, leaving Anatol with Erika-- who he soon seduces. Act two shows a month later and Anatol and Vanessa have grown very close, Erika is torn between her own feelings for him and her loyalty to Vanessa, but keeps her mouth shut. Anatol offers to marry Erika but she refuses, knowing he doesn't love her. In the third act Vanessa holds a gala to announce her engagement to Anatol and Erika, now we realize is with child, runs out into the cold night. In Act four Erika is still missing and Vanessa is worried. Anatol soon returns with a very ill Erika and they lay her in bed and leave her alone. Erika then tells her grandmother that she is successful, and will miscarry. In scene two Vanessa and Anatol are married and prepare to leave for Paris, saying their last farewells. Erika still keeps her secret and bids them good luck, and as they leave, she orders all the windows and mirrors covered-- her grandmother refusing to speak to her. The arias and ensambles can be strangely eerie. If you love opera and just want one that you can understand the lyrics, get Vanessa!!!!!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.