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Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Fedora. Opera in 3 Acts (1897)
Fedora, Eva Marton (sop); Loris, José Carreras (ten); de Siriex, a diplomat in Paris, János Martin (bar); Olga, Veronika Kincses (mezzo)
Hungarian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Giuseppe Patané
No recording data given, but believed recorded and first released in 1986
SONY CLASSICAL SM2K 91138 [2CDs: 44.58+49.40]


The Italian verismo composer Giordano, like his contemporaries Leoncavallo and Mascagni, is remembered for one early operatic work, in his case ‘Andrea Chenier’. This has had several distinguished recordings in the catalogue over the years and featuring some of the greatest singers. Fedora was premiered in 1898. After marriage into a wealthy family Giordano’s creativity declined and after his tenth opera, ‘Il Re’ (1929), he composed nothing further for the stage.

Fedora is mostly remembered for the hero’s solo ‘Amor ti vieta’; (CD 1 tr. 10) in Act 2, the tune pervading the opera. Like Puccini’s ‘Tosca’, and while pre-dating the latter by two years, it is also based on a play by Sardou. The plot is somewhat melodramatic. It starts with a murder in St. Petersburg before the scene moves to Paris and then Switzerland. More deaths follow, including that of Fedora who dies in the arms of the man she loves but has initially pursued seeking vengeance. Given that the work is relatively little known, it is regrettable that Sony devote only six lines to an explanation of the plot. A track related synopsis is really essential in the circumstances. There are two and one half blank pages in the eight sided leaflet, including cover and promotional advert of the twelve operas in the release … a deplorably missed opportunity.

As to the performance, Eva Marton, as the eponymous Countess, gives a strongly dramatic interpretation with her big voice not always steady (CD 1 tr. 4) a fault accentuated by the forward placing of the voices. The famous tenor aria (CD 1 tr. 10) shows Carreras’s essentially lyric voice as being a size too small for these verismo parts. He squeezes up to notes, and at full stretch the voice spreads with an unpleasant beat becoming all too obvious (CD2 trs. 2, 3, 5). The duet which follows ‘Amor ti vieta’, part with piano accompaniment (CD 1 tr. 11) is more lyrical, the vocal failings of the protagonists become less obvious and their singing enjoyable. Slavic wobble and lack of Italianate tone litter the minor parts, whilst the orchestra are set rather far back to have the full impact desirable in a verismo opera.

In view of the fact that the competition comes from a warmly recorded 1969 issue from Decca, with a vibrant Magda Olivero as Fedora, but crude portrayal of Loris by Del Monaco, those knowing the plot in detail might be tempted by this issue despite its limitations.

Robert J Farr

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