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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 (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.

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Copyright © 28 January 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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