After making it straight-faced through a synopsis of
the insubstantial yet overly complex narrative, Pfister sums up with this:
“Above all, however, Fedora is an extremely effective stage vehicle
for a prima donna.”
The irony of that lies in the fact that Fedora’s main claim to
operatic fame today comes from its central tenor aria, “Amor ti Vieta.“
Without that “big tune,” no one might care at all what sort of vehicle the
opera made for a soprano. Basically, the story gives the soprano reason to
fret and wring her hands for three acts before drinking poison. In Paris,
Fedora’s lover is shot, and she identifies his killer as Count Loris.
However, he offers an explanation that mollifies her (seems her lover was
cheating on her with Loris’s wife). She falls in love with the Count, but not
before identifying him to his political enemies. They go after his family,
and he announces that he will seek out the woman who set his enemies on his
trail. In despair, Fedora admits it was herself, and drinks poison, dying in
Giordano has ample opportunity for melodramatic inspiration in Arturo
Colautti’s libretto. Neither character is very sympathetic, unfortunately,
and the supporting cast is thin on interest or even relevance to the plot.
This is an opera done fair recompense to its quality by having it live on in
the 3 minute encore for tenor recitals that “Amor ti vieta” provides.
The La Scala DVD still makes for a mildly enjoyable wallow, with its
old-fashioned backdrop sets by Luisa Spinatelli, idiomatic conducting by
Gianandrea Gavazzeni, and Freni singing gloriously. She has Placido Domingo
for her Loris, and his tasteful “Amor ti Vieta” earns a substantial ovation,
though some listeners may join your reviewer in wishing for a more visceral
delivery. Alessandro Corbelli hams it up delightfully in his rather pointless
This Fedora serves as a reminder that some operas live on the
outskirts of the standard repertory because they really don't fit in when
they make it into town.