Barber’s Vanessa in Central City

World premieres during Rudolf Bing’s 22-year reign at the Metropolitan Opera can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so it is a sign of Samuel Barber’s prestige in the 1950s and 1960s that his two main operas are part of the tally.
_Anthony and Cleopatra_ was a notorious flop, thanks mainly to Franco Zeffirelli’s overblown production, but what of the earlier _Vanessa_, an intimate piece set in a Chekhovian household in northern Europe?