Fedora — Revenge, Impulsiveness, Love, and Forgiveness

If you’ve read my articles for a while, you know that one of my favorite things is the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Suzanne loved to go and I loved to go with her. I have continued to attend whenever possible.

Today I saw Fedora, an opera from the 1890s based on an 1882 play. It starred Sonia Yoncheva in the title role, Piotr Beczala as Count Loris Ipanov, Rosa Feola as Countess Olga, and Lucas Meacham as the diplomat DeSeriex. A wonderful cast of very talented performers. It had not been performed at teh Met in a quarter of a century until this run.

There will be encore showings on Wednesday, January 18, at 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM.

Princess Fedora is about to marry Count Vladimir Andrejevich, who is bankrupt from chasing women and gambling. She arrives at Count Vladimir’s place to find him out. Finally, as she sings of her love for him, he is brought in, mortally wounded. It is immediately suspected that Count Vladimir’s neighbor, Count Loris Ipanov, a suspected Nihilist sympathizer, was probably the assassin.

DeSiriex, a French diplomat, and the police inspector, Gretch, plan to investigate. Fedora swears on the (fancy) cross she is wearing that Count Vladimir’s death will be avenged.

Fedora goes to Paris, following Ipanov, to avenge Vladimir’s death. There is a reception at Fedora’s house where her friend, Countess Olga, brings a Polish pianist. Ipanov arrives and declares his love for Fedora. She tells him she is returning to Russia the next day. Ipanov protests that he is unable to go with her as he is exiled from Russia. He confesses to killing Vladimir.

Fedora tells Ipanov to meet her in an hour and she dismisses the party. She writes a letter to the Chief of the Imperial Police in Russia accusing Ipanov of murder.

Ipanov returns and tells her the story of how Vladimir betrayed her with Loris’s wife. He caught them and tried to stop them. Vladimir fired at Ipanov, and Ipanov returned fire, killing Vladimir. Fedora is devastated at Vladimir’s betrayal and convinces Ipanov to spend the night with her. She has fallen in love with him.

At Fedora’s Swiss villa, Ipanov and Fedora are lovers. Olga is also there. She has been betrayed by her Polish piano player. DeSeriex shows up and invites Olga to go riding with him.

DeSeriex tells Fedora that the Imperial Police picked up one of the killer’s accomplices, sent him to a prison by the Neva River, and he drowned slowly in a flood. The accomplice is Ipanov’s brother. On hearing the news, his mother had collapsed and died. Fedora realizes that her letter got them killed.

Ipanov receives a letter informing that his mother and brother have died and the cause was a woman living in Paris who wrote to the Imperial Police. Fedora, in a roundabout way, confesses to writing the letter. Ipanov denounces her and vows revenge, as she begs for his forgiveness.

Fedora takes the poison she has in her cross and dies. As she is dying, she confesses her love for Ipanov and he forgives her. She dies.

What can we learn from Fedora? We learn how destructive jealousy is. It is a poison that can destroy lives. So is betrayal.

Fedora’s letter is written before she has the full story. I’m sure that she would not have written it if she had had the full story. Her impulsiveness and desire for vengeance take two lives.

Finally, we learn about forgiveness and the power of love. Love and forgiveness ultimately emerge victorious in Fedora, despite the ruination of at least three human lives. Forgiveness releases the other person, but much more importantly, it releases us. This winds up being the focal point and end point of Fedora.

A wonderful opera, well sung. And the music was beautiful too. A wonderful example of verismo opera. I recommend it. Catch the encore presentation if you can.