Barber: Vanessa

National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine

My first impression of Vanessa, Samuel Barber’s 1958 opera written for the brilliant yet stodgy New York Metropolitan Opera Company, had nothing to do with the singing. Instead, it was that utterly haunting orchestral intermezzo, which stares back at you with a cool intensity not unlike the portrait of “Laura” from the famous Hollywood movie by the same name. Here is the complete Vanessa in all her glory, and that wistful quality permeates the voices, plus that intermezzo. The story, by Barber’s lifelong companion Gian Carlo Menotti, is a love triangle gone haywire. The vocalists include Ellen Chickering, Andrea Matthews and Marion Dry, with an all-Ukrainian orchestra and chorus. Nothing new sticks to the Met’s repertoire, so don’t expect Vanessa to return there. But here’s your chance.