• 2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2/4331/timp.perc/hp/str — stage band:1122/2100/perc/pf.cel.org.acn/str
  • reduced orchestration by James Medvitz: 2(pic).1+ca.2(bcl).2/3.2.2(btbn).1/syn(covering organ, celesta, accordion parts of the original)/timp.perc/hp/str — stage band:1111/2100/snare dm/str
  • SATB chorus
  • Soprano, Mezzo soprano, Tenor, Baritone [=Bass Baritone], Alto, 2 Basses, silent role
  • 2 hr
  • Libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti.
  • English, German, Italian

Programme Note

1958 Pulitzer Prize in Music

Librettist Note:

This is the story of two women, Vanessa and Erika, caught in the central dilemma which faces every human being: whether to fight for one's ideals to the point of shutting oneself off from reality, or compromise with what life has to offer, even lying to oneself for the mere sake of living. Like a sullen Greek chorus, a third woman (the old Grandmother) condemns by her very silence the refusal first of Vanessa, then of Erika, to accept the bitter truth that life offers no solution except its own inherent struggle. When Vanessa, in her final eagerness to embrace life, realizes this truth, it is perhaps too late.

—Gian Carlo Menotti

Cast List:

   VANESSA, a lady of great beauty, in her late thirties: Soprano
   ERIKA, her niece, a young girl of twenty: Mezzo-Soprano
   THE OLD BARONESS, Vanessa's mother and Erika's grandmother: Contralto
   ANATOL, a handsome young man in his early twenties: Tenor
   THE OLD DOCTOR: Baritone
   NICHOLAS, the Major-Domo: Bass
   FOOTMAN: Bass
   The Young Pastor, Servants, Guests, Peasants, their Children, Musicians.


At Vanessa’s country estate, around 1905, Vanessa meets Anatol, the son of a long-past lover and becomes close to him, as does her niece, Erika. Even though Erika says she is pregnant by Anatol, she refuses his offer of marriage. Vanessa and Anatol marry instead and go off, leaving Erika to wait for her true love.


Barber: Vanessa; Act 1: Who are you?
Barber: Vanessa; Act 2: Our arms entwined
Barber: Vanessa; Act 2: Did you hear her?
Barber: Vanessa; Act 2: Orchestral Interlude - Hymn
Barber: Vanessa; Act 3: The Count and the Countess d'Albany
Barber: Vanessa; Act 3: Here you are!
Barber: Vanessa; Act 3: Nothing to worry about
Barber: Vanessa; Act 4: There, look!
Barber: Vanessa; Act 4: Grandmother! - Yes, Erika
Barber: Vanessa; Act 4: Intermezzo
Barber: Vanessa; Act 4: Goodbye, Erika


Act I
Acts II and III