In Review: McIntyre's "Vanessa" at Toledo Opera a "Work of Art"

Toledo Opera Production of Vanessa is a Work of Art

The Toledo Opera’s spring production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa is, in short, art with a capital “A.” This riveting drama lays, brick by brick and note by note, a masterful framework of musical genius that leaves the listener at curtain call wondering whether to sit weeping at its pathos or stand speechless at its beauty. The evening is a dark and seething morass of intrigue and tension. Stage director Kristine McIntyre has made brilliant artistic choices which underscore why the 1958 musical drama won the Pulitzer Prize… Video projections designed by Michael Baumgarten create the illusion of space and mood. The music begins and within two minutes the mind fills in everything that is missing. The orchestra disappears. As if by magic, the audience finds itself lost in a mansion somewhere in the middle of Europe. Snow and ice are everywhere, both on the ground and in the hearts of those whose lives we are soon to plumb. The drama unfolds and the lack of stage decoration pushes the emotional grinding forward with a palpable intimacy, demanding the audience’s attention. The all-star cast, only seven singing roles, interacts with ferocious tension that can be cut with a knife… Particular mention should be made of two exquisite dramatic moments: the second-act scene where Vanessa and Erika share the glory of grand ballroom dances gone by, and the quintet finale that prophetically reveals the awaiting fate of each of the principals… Yet the whole of this Vanessa packs an aesthetic impact that approaches artistic perfection.

Wayne F. Anthony, The Blade