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Ionarts in Santa Fe: 60th Anniversary Season (Part 1 of 2)

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Barber, Vanessa (orig. version), E. Steber, N. Gedda, R. Elias, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, D. Mitropoulos
Charles T. Downey, Santa Fe Opera, part 1: Celebrating 60 with two rarities and Strauss (of course) (Washington Post, July 31)
Some companies celebrate anniversaries with a world premiere; but the Santa Fe Opera, which has staged its share of them over the years, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer with three rarely-performed 20th-century masterpieces, instead. Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa,” heard for the first time in the company’s history, crowned the season in its opening performance on Saturday evening.

In Gian Carlo Menotti’s taut libretto, set in a manor house in rural Denmark, Vanessa has been waiting for over twenty years for her lost love, Anatol, with her silently hostile mother and her niece Erika. At the start of the opera, an Anatol arrives who turns out to be the lost lover’s son, and he sets about seducing both aunt and niece. When Vanessa asks Erika to read to her in the first scene, Erika chooses Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex,” lines spoken by Oedipus just at the moment when he is revealed on stage having struck out his own eyes. You can guess that the story will not end well.

Soprano Erin Wall had shattering power in the title role, her voice revealing all of Vanessa’s pent-up frustration, but with a striking high pianissimo also in her arsenal...
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