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Barber’s Vanessa comes from Glyndebourne last year, where Keith Warner’s production proved a critical hit. He plays it straight, inspired by film noir and the weepies that Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck emoted in, plus an element of Hitchcockian psychosexual tension. Ashley Martin-Davis’ set literally frames the action, the stage is elegantly spare, the costumes wearably gorgeous. The acting is naturalistic and detailed and it all combines to make a satisfying emotional whole. Jakub Hrůša’s conducting adds to the Romantic sweep of the performance, and the cast is excellent. Emma Bell’s Vanessa captures the pent-up frustration of the character, her soprano ringing free. Likewise, Virginie Verrez is a neurotic Erika and a supercilious Rosalind Plowright enjoys making much of little as The Old Baroness. Edgaras Montvidas is the caddish Anatol, his tenor bright and diction superb – indeed, everyone’s English is impressively understandable.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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