Loved the opera (Fedora) and the attendance was as much as I have ever seen at Met Opera at the Byre. Why, well, I don’t really know – could be it has been some time (before lockdown) since we have had Met Opera at the Byre, withdrawal symptoms maybe? However, more likely that since St Andrews University has taken over the theatre, they have a policy of “Pay what you can”. When I first came to St Andrews it would have cost a couple around £50.00 for seats, and since I did not see anyone under 65 there tonight is suspect, getting a couple of tickets for £20.00 (you can manage that even on a pension) has brought the people (OAP) beating a path to their door.

The opera was Fedora set in Russia – Paris and Switzerland, and this is reflected in the music, heavy melancholy Russia, waltzing and dancing, Paris, and in Switzerland, light and gay, lots of (French) horns sounding very Alpine.

We open in Count Vladimir’s house in St Petersburg, which is very male, all gamblers and drunkards – the count we find out he is a gambling man and a womaniser – the marriage to Princess Fedora Romanoff, is due to take place the following morning (clearing his debts for Fedora is a rich widow – the Count has been shot and they have brought him home – he dies of his wounds. (Fedora had a lucky escape if you ask me) – questioning the servants, the name of the man suspected of firing the fatal shot was said to be Loris Ipanoff. Fedora swears to get revenge for her lover’s death.

Loris escapes the country to avoid capture pursued in Paris by Fedora, who seduces Loris and extracts a confession which she then passes on to the Police in Russia and arranges for her spies to abduct Loris and return him to Russia and justice.

Once the gears are in motion – Fedora asks Loris why he shot her lover. Turned out to be a crime of passion – Loris caught his wife and Count Vladimir (remember him) and in a jealous rage shot them both. Around this time Fedora sees the error of her ways and promptly falls in love with Count Vladimir.  

The couple flees to Switzerland to do a lot of kissing and cuddling (well. It was before the 9 O’clock watershed) – news finds Fedora that Loris’s brother had been taken in for questioning as being complicit in the death of Count Vladimir (although totally innocent he died in custody, whereupon their aged mother died instantly on heard the new. Fedora is distorted since it was she who started the ball rolling.

A letter comes to Loris – he has been given a pardon. Delighted with this news he intends to return to St Petersburg to be reunited with his brother and mother – he then receives the news of their deaths and that a woman spy from Paris had caused their death. He flies into a rage he will track this spy woman down and kill her. Fedora pleads for him to forgive her – then the penny drops – he realises it was Fedora’s doing. In grief – for the loss of her new lover and the happiness he would have brought into her life, she drinks poison – the fat lady sings her swan song and dies – as she lies dying Loris forgives her – Paper hankie time.

Fedora is sung by Sonya Yoncheva, the range of the woman, from very low to extremely high notes – she certainly earned her corn, a long performance for her.

Loris Ianoff (I think he is Polish) – in the very first performance of Fedora this part was sung by Caruso, (another piece of useless information).

There was a part in the first Act, for my favourite voice, a contralto playing the trouser part. (They are always cast as witches, bitches or trousers) but it was short and sweet.

A very enjoyable 2.5 hours that went in a trice.

Stay safe.  

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