Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

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At the outset the Princess Fedora of Mirella Freni, perhaps more fresh in voice than appearance (she has many a misery ahead of her) is awaiting her fiancé, Captain of the Imperial Guard. His arrival on a stretcher all but dead is not what she bargained for. The palace is in an uproar, and from the welter of witnesses the police elicit the persistent name of Count Loris Ipanov [watch and listen -- chapter 4, 10:54-12:00]. He is surely the culprit, and the Princess is resolved on vengeance [watch and listen -- chapter 7, 21:07-22:22]. As a good Orthodox Christian subject to no industrial tribunal, she wears a notably visible cross. Within it, though, is a phial of deadly poison that might be put to some characteristic Russian purpose.

Fedora (Mirella Freni) holds the cross containing the phial of poison. DVD screenshot © 1993 Radiotelevisione Italiana
Fedora (Mirella Freni) holds the cross containing the phial of poison. DVD screenshot © 1993 Radiotelevisione Italiana

Giordano has already shown himself capable of grand Italianate melodic lines. Translated to Paris, the initial social scene is conducted against the background of a piano recital by Boleslao Lazinski (Arnold Bosman), who claimed to be a nephew of Chopin on the reasonable ground that the composer had two married sisters [watch and listen -- chapter 10, 30:07-31:40]. Plácido Domingo as Count Loris is vocally magnificent, admits he murdered Vladimir, and is therefore about to be killed by assassins planted in the garden by the Princess. He then produces a letter incriminating Vladimir as the lover of Loris's wife. Assassination inevitably gives place to love between Count and Princess, so that she forbids him the garden and urges him to remain for the night [watch and listen -- chapter 15, 40:15-41:56].

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Copyright © 28 January 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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