The American composer Samuel Barber is best know for his much-loved Adagio for Strings, recognised by all music-lovers, even if they can't put a name of it. Born in 1910, Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice, the first time for his opera Vanessa, which was composed in 1956 and is very rarely staged. This summer it is produced by Glyndebourne for the first time in the country opera house's 80-year history.
Vanessa is set at the turn of the 19th century and opens in a mansion house where Vanessa herself has, Miss Haversham-like, lived in seclusion for 20 years since she was jilted by her lover. When a man comes to call, she thinks it is him and veils her ageing face. But the caller is the now dead lover's son, who seduces Vanessa's niece.
Vanessa opened to great reviews at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1958, with praise for an opera that 'packs an emotional charge and that would be a credit to any composer anywhere'. With its shades of Janáček's doom-laden, intense and claustrophobic domestic dramas, it is on an ideal scale for this beautiful, smaller-scale opera house. It promises to be a real highlight of this year's season.
The British soprano Emma Bell sings Vanessa, with the French mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez as her niece, Erika and the Lithuanian tenor Edgaras Montvidas as the caller, Anatol.
Jakub Hrůša, Czech conductor of the Royal Opera House's triumphant Carmen, conducts all but two performances, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne Chorus.
Keith Warner directs, with design by Ashley Martin-Davis, lighting by Mark Jonathan, and projection design by Alex Uragallo.
Vanessa is sung in English with English surtitles. Public booking opens at 6pm on 4 March. It is live-streamed and relayed to cinemas across London and nationwide on 14 April. Booking for cinema seats opens on 22 March: click here for more details.
|What||Samuel Barber's Vanessa, Glyndebourne Festival Opera|
|Where||Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5UU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Victoria (underground)|
05 Aug 18 – 26 Aug 18, times vary; 10 performances lasting 3hr 50min, including long dinner interval
|Price||£10 - £165|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|