This weekend’s Live in HD transmission from the Metropolitan Opera features Umberto Giordano’s Fedora, starring Sonya Yoncheva and Piotr Beczała. This new production by David McVicar was premiered by the Met on New Year’s Eve in a performance described by the Observer as “Opera at its most irresistible!” – and will now be available to cinema audiences around the world, and to select audiences at home.
Giordano, a composer from southern Italy, wrote Fedora in 1898, having also written Andrea Chénier and Madame Sans-Gêne. The libretto for Fedora was written by Italian journalist and political writer Antonio Colautti – also known for having written the libretto for Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur – basing Fedora on a play by Victorien Sardou, the dramatist who wrote a number of plays for Sarah Bernhardt, including one on which Madame Sans-Gêne was based.
This three-act opera takes place in the 1880s in three different European locales – Imperial St Petersburg, high-society Paris, and a villa in Switzerland. It tells of a 19th-century Russian princess, Fedora, who is devastated at the murder of her fiancé, Vladimiro, and determined to seek vengeance. The perpetrator is thought to be Count Loris Ipanoff, and she names him in a letter to Vladimiro’s father. Some months later, at a soirée in Fedora’s ballroom in Paris, her confidante Countess Olga, and the diplomat De Siriex, are astonished to learn that Fedora is accompanied by Ipanoff, who has been exiled to Paris, and is unaware of Fedora’s relationship to Vladimiro. Fedora had apparently planned to extract a confession from him, but she and Ipanoff find themselves falling in love. The letter containing Fedora’s assertion of Ipanoff’s role in the murder ultimately resurfaces, and she realizes the predicament in which she has placed herself.
The title role is taken by soprano Sonya Yoncheva in whom, says the Financial Times, “…. the Met has a Fedora at the peak of her career, who sings glowingly, balances imperiousness with vulnerability, and looks regal in Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s lavish gowns”. Loris Ipanoff is sung by Piotr Beczała who – again according to the FT – “… is a superlative Loris”. Rosa Feola is Countess Olga, and the role of De Siriex is taken by Lucas Meachem.
Conductor Marco Armiliato, having led more than 450 performances at the Met, is a great favorite with audiences. He leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (and Chorus) which “ ….. delighted in some of Giordano’s most sumptuous writing” says the Observer.
This Live in HD presentation – which marks the 150th of this award-winning initiative – is directed by Gary Halvorson, and hosted by soprano Ailyn Pérez.
It takes place on January 14 at 12.55 pm ET. To find your nearest cinema, follow this link. For audiences who do not live near a participating cinema, Fedora will also be available on the The Met: Live at Home platform, which offers a live stream or on-demand viewing for seven days following the performance.
Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera program notes