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'Vanessa' star rises to the challenge of a rarely staged opera at Spoleto Festival USA

Nicole Heaston, in Vanessa
Spoleto Festival USA
Nicole Heaston sings the title role in Samuel Barber's Vanessa

Soprano Nicole Heaston shares insights into the musically and psychologically intense title role she's singing in Charleston through June 10th.

In this Sonatas & Soundscapes interview that aired Wednesday, May 31st, soprano Vanessa Heaston speaks with SC Public Radio's Bradley Fuller about singing the title role of the opera Vanessa at Spoleto Festival USA 2023. Featuring evocative music by Samuel Barber and a libretto by Spoleto Festival founder Gian Carlo Menotti, Vanessa is a deeply psychological drama with a complex central character, Heaston says. She shares about her approach to the role, how Vanessa compares musically to other operas she's performed, and offers advice to budding musicians.

Winner of the 1958 Pulitizer Prize in Music, Vanessa was previously staged at Spoleto Festival USA in 1978. Two more performances of the opera—directed by Rodula Gaitanou and featuring the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra conducted by Timothy Myers—will be given at the Charleston Gaillard Center on Tuesday, June 6th and Saturday, June 10th. Joining Heaston onstage are mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams as Erika, mezzo-soprano Rosalind Plowright as The Old Baroness, tenor Edward Graves as Anatol, and baritone Malcolm MacKenzie as The Old Doctor.

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Originally from Greenwood, SC, Bradley Fuller has maintained a deep interest in classical music since the age of six. With piano lessons throughout grade school and involvement in marching and concert bands on the saxophone, Bradley further developed musical abilities as well as an appreciation for the importance of arts education.