• Details

    A rare opportunity to see Barber’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work – opera from the age of Hitchcock, with an atmospheric score and tense, psychological twists.

    Abandoned by her lover Anatol, Vanessa retreats from the world, waiting and hoping with only her mother and her niece Erika for company. But when, 20 years later, Anatol’s handsome young son arrives unexpectedly, he shatters the calm of this shuttered household of women. Past and present love collides, and the aftershocks threaten to destroy them all.

    You can see the production live in cinemas and online on Tuesday 14 August.

    One of the 20th century’s most beautiful scores

    An operatic thriller from the age of Hitchcock, Samuel Barber’s Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera boasts one of the 20th century’s most beautiful scores. Poised constantly on the edge of song, Vanessa unfolds in generous swathes of melody, rich in filmic strings and soaring brass, with echoes of Puccini, Berg and Strauss. It climaxes in a final quintet of Mozartean poignancy – one of the great ensembles of the contemporary repertoire.

    Seldom performed in the UK, this is a rare opportunity to see Barber’s heart-breaking domestic drama. Olivier Award-winning director Keith Warner makes his much-anticipated Glyndebourne debut with this production, which promises to bring out the psychological tensions that sit just below the surface of this charged work.

    A new production for Festival 2018. Sung in English with English supertitles.


    Enhance your experience

    Insider talk – Vanessa: Exploring an operatic thriller
    Friday 17 August, 4.00pm – 4.45pm, £9

    Insider talks gives you a behind the-scenes glimpse in to the workings of Glyndebourne – find out more

    Study event – Vanessa: The great American opera?
    Sunday 12 August, 10.30am-1.30pm, £25
    Moderated by journalist Warwick Thompson and featuring expert talks, panel discussions and musical previews, study events are designed to give you an in-depth insight into our Festival 2018 operas. Book now


    Vanessa is supported by The Aisbitt Family

  • Cast and creative team

    Creative team

    Conductor Jakub Hrůša / Leo McFall (17 and 24 August)
    Director Keith Warner
    Designer Ashley Martin-Davis
    Lighting Designer Mark Jonathan
    Projection Designer Alex Uragallo

    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Leader Kevin Lin

    The Glyndebourne Chorus
    Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins

    Assistant Conductor Leo McFall
    Music Preparation Matthew Fletcher, Kate Golla, Anthony Legge
    Assistant Directors Neil Robinson, Ian Rutherford

    Cast includes

    Nicholas, the Major-Domo William Thomas*†
    Erika Virginie Verrez
    Vanessa Emma Bell
    Anatol Edgaras Montvidas
    The Old Baroness Rosalind Plowright
    The Old Doctor Donnie Ray Albert
    Footman Romanas Kudriašovas*

    * Soloist from The Glyndebourne Chorus
    † Jerwood Young Artist 2018

  • Dates and times

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    Performance schedule Gardens Performance Transport
    Date Open Start *Long interval Finish Train departs Victoria Post opera coach
    Sunday 5 August  
    2.00 4.45 5.45 8.25 12.46 8.55
    Tuesday 7 August  
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Friday 10 August  
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Sunday 12 August  
    2.00 4.45 5.45 8.25 12.46 8.55
    Tuesday 14 August   <30
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Friday 17 August  
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Sunday 19 August  
    2.00 4.45 5.45 8.25 12.46 8.55
    Wednesday 22 August   <30
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Friday 24 August   <30
    3.00 5.20 6.20 9.00 1.46 9.25
    Sunday 26 August
    2.00 4.45 5.45 8.25 12.46 8.55
    Opening night
    Insider Talk
    Study event
    <30 Glyndebourne Under 30s performance
    Early Start
    Dining and ticket option available

    *Long dining interval
    Our long dining interval lasts for 90 minutes

  • Synopsis

    Act I

    It is a stormy winter’s night; a house on a remote country estate, where mirrors are kept veiled and the portraits covered. Vanessa, her elderly mother the Baroness, and her niece Erika await the arrival of Anatol – Vanessa’s former lover, a man she has not seen for 20 years. At last a man arrives, but when he enters he proves to be a stranger. Overcome by shock, Vanessa rushes away, leaving Erika to talk to the young man, who reveals that he is in fact Anatol’s son, who is also named Anatol. The two young people talk. Time has passed. Alone with the Baroness, Erika confesses that Anatol slept with her on that first night. She loves him and he has proposed marriage, but she is not sure that he is capable of true love. Vanessa and Anatol return from skating. The family Doctor, ever in attendance, recalls the old days. Vanessa now confesses her own love for the young Anatol to Erika, who, once they are alone, immediately confronts him. He again offers marriage, but she refuses: Vanessa, who has waited so long, can have him.

    Act II

    It is New Year’s Eve, and the household is preparing for a grand party to announce Vanessa and Anatol’s engagement. The Doctor, who is Master of Ceremonies, is a little drunk, and worried he may muddle his toast. Vanessa is troubled because neither her mother nor Erika will attend. With the guests all in the ballroom, Erika creeps downstairs. But hearing the official engagement announcement she is suddenly overcome with pain, and runs out into the snow. She vows that Anatol’s child, which she is carrying, will never be born.

    Act III

    The Baroness has raised the alarm, and at last the search parties return: Anatol has found Erika near to death. Vanessa questions him: does he know what made Erika behave so rashly? But he offers no explanation. Erika confesses her pregnancy to the Baroness, and explains that she has now lost the child. The Baroness turns away, refusing to speak to her. Two weeks later, and Vanessa and Anatol are now married and preparing to depart for a new life in Paris. Vanessa is concerned about the cause of Erika’s actions. Erika explains that she thought she was in love with someone who did not love her, but promises that it was not Anatol. The family gather to say goodbye, and all contemplate the fragile nature of love. The Doctor, Vanessa and Anatol depart, leaving Erika alone with the Baroness, who still refuses to speak to her. The house now belongs to Erika, and she orders it returned to its former state; all pictures and mirrors are to be covered up and the gates locked. It is now her turn to wait.