“My theory: Composers who ignore significant parts of their being – nationality included – cut their creativity off at the knees. Barber was being derivative in self-defeating ways out of deference to the operatic genre. Bernstein, in comparison, was out to tell important stories using the most effective means possible…” David Patrick Stearns adds his voice to the debate about Vanessa in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Oh, and La Cieca has discovered where she read the line about Vanessa being the American Adriana Lecouvreur. It’s from the “Goings On About Town” column in the New Yorker. (Since the subject is classical music, one assumes Alex Ross at least contributed to the piece, though it’s unclear whether the “Adriana” mot is an authentic Rossism.)
And finally, La Cieca was just remembering something she was giggling about during the performance of Vanessa at the NYCO. One couldn’t help noticing that Lauren Flanigan was, well, just a little on the zaftig side, and that her costumes were not exactly slenderizing. So, in the second scene, after the “Under the Willow Tree” number, Flanigan smoothed down her skirt and sang “Erika, I am so happy. I know now…” However, what La Cieca heard was not “happy” but “hippy” which under the circumstances made just as much sense: “Erika, I am so hippy.”
Unfortunately, that word “happy” does crop up again frequently again in the libretto, so La Cieca just about disgraced herself snickering:
Vanessa: “Good morning, Pastor, we shall soon be ready. Have some coffee with us. Oh, how hippy I feel this morning, how hippy!”
The Doctor: “I know you will make a hippy couple.”
Erika: “Please forget me. Make her hippy, Anatol” and “Goodbye, be hippy, Aunt Vanessa, please be hippy.”