The mood was festive and the audience rapturous for the gala premiere of Umberto Giordano’s rare new production of Fedora, Umberto Giordano’s lovely and ridiculous potboiler at the Metropolitan Opera on New Year’s Eve.
Soprano Sonya Yoncheva and tenor Piotr Vezzala played an aristocrat trapped in a series of betrayals and betrayals, passionately loved and enraged. Conductor Marco Armiliato and the Metz orchestra brought a restrained smoothness out of the pit. David McVicar’s staging was buzzing and handsome. We all had a great time.
But I could not suppress my little voice of fear. It’s not about Saturday night’s celebratory scene, but much less marketing and press coverage when the Metropolitan Museum of Art tries to get its money’s worth out of a new production and bring it back to life, perhaps with a less star-studded cast. As for what’s going to happen. Season 1, season 2, season 3, who will be in that “Fedora” audience?
The issue became even more urgent after the arrival of coal in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s inventory the day after Christmas. The company said it would be forced to raid its $30 million fund as ticket sales languished and donors resisted as the pandemic dragged on. 1/10th of the fund’s value in full and next season cut his 10% of the scheduled performance.
In a positive sign, the Metropolitan Museum of Art also said it would soon expand screenings of contemporary opera, which has outsold sales of some classic works.
But really, what’s sold in the house is what gets promotional resources and media exposure. It’s a new piece, whether it’s a brand new piece or something like ‘Fedora’ that’s 125 years old for him. Without such publicity, revivals of lesser-known but non-Aida classics such as Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” Britten’s “Peter Grimes,” and Verdi’s “Don Carlos” would have been bleak this fall. Attendees were particularly distressed. It is very likely that this is also the fate of “Fedora” when it is revived.
The Met has a real audience, as evidenced by the sold-out performances of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” and “The Hours.” As a pillar of an opera, there are not so many. I’m listening to a repertoire that evolves year by year with a variety of casts. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer groups of people who want to see “La Traviata” change subtly but definitely with each new Violetta, or “Fedora” with each new her Fedora. increase.
So a 10% reduction in performance next season is a harbinger of things to come. The Met’s long-term future is likely to consist of significantly fewer performances of significantly fewer titles and seasons with a higher ratio of new staging to reruns.
This model, which brings the Met closer from the repertory house tradition to an annual event like the Salzburg Festival, could produce some strong artistic results. But the move to it will require a rethinking of the company’s costs, and therefore of the upheaval of labor contracts, and this season’s brooding revivals like “Idomeneo,” “Peter Grimes,” and “Don Carlos.” sales should be reduced. These are all integral to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s commitment to the art form.
Even if this “Fedora” never makes a comeback, at least the delicate, spirited production that last appeared on the Met in the 1996-97 season was the prime time vehicle for the great diva Mirella Freni.
“Fedora” is as much an opera as it is an opera. Title Her character (Yoncheva) is a Russian princess in her late 19th century who vows her revenge after her fiancé is shot dead. Of course, the plot thickens. It turns out that the murderer, Count Loris Ipanov (Betsalah), did not commit the crime for political reasons, as everyone assumed. (Dark specters, such as those seen in Dosteovski’s “The Devil” and the Coen brothers’ “Big Lebowski,” are nihilists.) No, the Fedora man is on good terms with Loris’ wife and has a jealous gunfight. caused When it is revealed, the antagonism between the princess and the earl turns into lust.
This is tearful, as the indictment she sent prematurely inadvertently resulted in the deaths of Loris’ brother and mother, his ferocious accusations against Fedora, and her excessive overdose due to the poison she crucified. Their brief idyll is shattered when it leads to suicide. her neck. (don’t you?)
The play on which this serious Farago is based was written by the French theater sensation Victorian Sardou, who was also the source for Puccini’s Tosca at the same time. Giordano, Puccini and other Italian composers who came of age in the 1880s and his 90s became known to posterity under the catchall “Verismo”. Arias and other pieces emerge and recede organically rather than formally, but there is a melodic richness that sets Wagner apart, at least when compared to earlier Italian operas.
Brother of its more famous predecessor, Giordano’s ‘Andrea Chenier’ ‘Fedora’, ‘Fedora’ is not a perfect production. Roles other than Fedora and Loris are completely unrewarding. Giordano’s elation as he opens Acts 2 and 3 is too obvious in contrast to the intense drama that follows, and it goes on too long. There is an aria about Veuve Clicquot champagne and an aria about bicycles, both of which are thin.
But for all its absurdity, the pairing of Fedora and Loris can ignite a dedicated singer. Not to mention the chance to bite into the wild scenery. As fun as that is, credit to Yoncheva, Betzalah, Armiliat and McVicar for spreading a sense of class and dignity on Saturday.
sometimes too much. Some operas, Yoncheva, seemed a little cohesive amidst all the shocking revelations. Nothing seemed to surprise her. And her high register tended to lack richness rather than volume, so her climactic scream wasn’t harrowing.
But she had far more vocal presence here than in her pale turn as Elisabeth in Verdi’s “Don Carlos” (French) at the Met last season. The soprano has an inherent morbidity that haunts both Fedora’s long lyrical lines and speech-like parland. She renders even small moments brilliantly. Near the end, she sees the tragedy unfolding and actually mutters “andate, undatepure” (“go, go”).
After listening to a warm-up with “Amor ti vieta,” a short aria long loved by tenors, Bezala sang with her usual stylish passion. Among the sprawling cast, robust baritone Lucas Meachem (as Diplomat De Siriex) and bright soprano Rosa Feora (Countess Olga) did their best in bland supporting parts. Brian Wagon, a veteran of the Met’s musical staff, made his turn as the Shopinesque pianist playing at the party where Fedora and Loris faced each other.
Armiliato’s conducting was notable for bringing out the dynamic range of the score. Much of this orchestral performance was nuanced and delicate, rather than the blood-and-gut rumble that is still Bellismo’s stereotype.
This is somehow McVicar’s 13th Met production since 2009, and its main concept is Simple Logistics 1. ) chunks further upstream. Like McVicar’s staging of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art four years ago on New Year’s Eve, it suggests a fusion of domestic and theater spaces. His most singular interpolation here is the pale appearance of Fedora’s murdered fiancée. Anything is fine.
While the outfit’s color scheme (by Brigitte Leifenstuhl) is predominantly black and white, which unfortunately limits the overwhelming palette range of Fedora’s gown, Yoncheva maintains a cinched waist and heavy cut. It looked great in
In the first act, she wears a dramatic raven-colored dress and a tiara of many diamonds. Hearing the audience applaud when she appeared was enough of a pleasure to quiet that little voice of fear in my head about the future of the company for a moment. Confidently crossing the stage to applause on New Year’s Eve, one of the heartwarming productions of any true opera lover, and a world where everything was right.
Until January 28th at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan. metopera.org.