This production was Salvo Piro’s revival of Lamberto Puggelli's quite traditional staging for La Scala, and contained some good ideas, such as the still silhouettes of the characters which open each act. The opulent Russian emigrés' community is portrayed in the background, and the drama develops from apparent terrorist assassination to a different truth emerging, from love to revenge, to recriminations and death. The direction was clear and clean and the cast was well directed. The dramatic action was brought alive by Luisa Spinatelli’s elegant and fluid scenes.

<i>Fedora</i> at San Carlo © Laura Ferrari
Fedora at San Carlo
© Laura Ferrari

Fedora is considered Giordano's "second choice" opera, after Andrea Chénier and most likely so it will be forever. To many it is mainly known for Loris's aria "Amor ti vieta", even if in Fedora there are more notable melodies, and two great singers can convince an audience that it contains music which is as unforgettable as some of Puccini's – Tosca, for instance, with which it shares both its musical language and melodramatic stance.

The title role offers a good soprano something really challenging. Fedora is a Russian princess who falls in love for her dead fiancé’s suspected murderer (Loris). Fiorenza Cedolins was convincing in this role which she sang for the first time. Cedolins is a classy singer and her soprano was as powerful and bright as usual; she created a suitably noble character, giving an awesome performance in every way. Her voice opened up beautifully in “O grandi occhi lucenti”, and in the rest of the arias and duets she sang with vibrant sound and incisiveness.

Fiorenza Cedolins (Fedora) and Giuseppe Filianoti (Loris) © Laura Ferrari
Fiorenza Cedolins (Fedora) and Giuseppe Filianoti (Loris)
© Laura Ferrari

Giuseppe Filianoti, making his debut at the San Carlo, sang Loris. The tenor brought his fresh timbre to the role, along with a soft line of singing, with well calibrated high notes. The lyrical outpourings of the '“Amor ti vieta”, were phrased with credible passion. Both singers delivered well when they sang individually, but together, they reached even higher. In their Act II love duet, and even more in the death scene of Act III, we were offered pieces of real operatic talent. 

The rest of the cast gave excellent support. Baritone Roberto de Candia was impeccable in his role as the French diplomat De Siriex with excellent singing and good scenic personality, especially in his light and ironic interpretation  of “La donna russa”. Barbara Bargnesi was an adorable, frivolous Countess Olga, Fedora's friend. Her fine light soprano was employed  with refined grace, and with a limpid timbre and agile line of singing, as in “Il parigino", an ironic reply to De Siriex’s mockery.

John Paul Huckle was Cirillo, Vladimiro’s coachman, and sang his little arioso in Act I with powerful voice, and then also played Doctor Borov. Francesca Russo Ermolli interpreted very well both Dimitri and the off-stage little Savoyard in the third act. The other roles were well sung, and pianist Roberto Moreschi played Lazinski, the supposed nephew of Chopin.

<i>Fedora</i> at San Carlo © Laura Ferrari
Fedora at San Carlo
© Laura Ferrari

Conductor Asher Fisch kept the rich score moving along well, and clearly described the divers atmospheres, the many scenic passages accompanied with plenty of colour. Giordano's orchestra is generously rich in melodic energy, with many dramatic peaks, and all the sections of the San Carlo ensemble responded to the challenges with generous commitment.

Despite the fact that the choral parts are not offered great opportunities in this opera, here the San Carlo Chorus directed by Marco Faelli did well as usual, with great professionalism. All deserved the final ovation.

****1