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Fedora and Loris have adopted what they assume is a safe retreat in the mountains,
where they can luxuriate in their passion and the splendid scenery provided by La Scala.
Countess Olga, proprietress of the Polish pianist, has taken up cycling in what must
be arduous terrain and appears equipped for a ride on her machine
[watch and listen -- chapter 24, 74:50-75:57].
The lakeside idyll is rudely shattered by the arrival of a diplomat well known to
the lovers. The letter Fedora had penned to eliminate Loris in Paris had also
reached Vladimir's father. The double result was the death by drowning of Loris's
brother and the fatal grief of his mother.
Fedora (Mirella Freni) and Loris (Plácido Domingo) at the end of the opera. DVD screenshot © 1993 Radiotelevisione Italiana
Fedora is beside herself and can finally only concentrate on her crucifix. She
wonders if she might keep the appalling tidings from Loris, but he gets a letter
from St Petersburg revealing the full scale of the disaster. She has to admit her
responsibility, and Loris's initial reaction is to curse her roundly
[watch and listen -- chapter 29, 94:18-96:19].
The poison is suspended around her neck, concealed within that symbol of intolerable
suffering. This was not how Fedora anticipated its use, but in her abject wretchedness
she sees no escape. The deadly fluid destroys her at its own operatic tempo, by which
time Loris is both full of understanding and forgiveness.
Copyright © 28 January 2007
Robert Anderson, London UK