[Met Performance] CID:38310
Fedora {4} Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12/27/1906.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 27, 1906


FEDORA {4}

Fedora Romazov..........Lina Cavalieri
Count Loris Ipanov......Enrico Caruso
Countess Olga Sukarev...Bella Alten
De Siriex...............Antonio Scotti
Desirè..................Giovanni Paroli
Dimitri.................Marie Mattfeld
Gretch..................Eugène Dufriche
Lorek...................Vittorio Navarini
Cirillo.................Bernard Bégué
Baron Rouvel............Giovanni Paroli
Dr. Borov...............Adolph Mühlmann
Boleslao Lazinski.......Tullio Voghera
Peasant Boy.............Josephine Jacoby

Conductor...............Arturo Vigna

In response to audience enthusiasm at the close of Act II, Enrico Caruso and Lina Cavalieri repeated the act's final scene.

Review (unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)

CAVALIERI A GRAND SUCCESS IN 'FEDORA'

FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE SINGER IN THIS CITY

EFFECTIVE IN THE LEADING ROLE

Caruso Sings Here in the Final Time This Season and is Generously Applauded

Since Philadelphia abandoned all effort to maintain an independent opera and became dependent on the high-priced bounty of New York, the repertory has become so restricted that the presentation here of an unfamiliar work within a few years of its production in Europe, in South America and in Mexico is a notable event. Not long ago the earliest successful operas of the young Italian school, of Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Puccini, had their first American performances in Philadelphia, as had been the case, in an earlier period, with such epoch-making works as "Aida" and "Carmen." Nowadays we must await Mr. Conried's convenience, or that of his singers, to hear anything recent, and must be duly thankful for an occasional detached performance of a new work, which loses much of its right perspective when thus served.

The significance of Giordano's "Fedora," as presented at the Academy of Music last night, was further obscured by the personal elements which absorbed so much of the attention of the large audience. It was the occasion of the first appearance here of Madame Cavalieri, an artist of rare personal beauty and charm, graceful and gracious of manner and of distinct dramatic ability, whose presentation of the leading role was admirably effective, and of the first appearance this season of Signor Caruso, whose countrymen had combined to give him demonstrative welcome. Encouraged by the general applause, the popular tenor poured out his voice with reckless prodigality in those fervid outbursts that are familiar and more than accentuated all the opportunities the composer had given him in the part of Loris Ipanoff.

Opera a Masterpiece.

Sardou's "Fedora," from which this Italian lyric drama is a very close adaptation, is a masterpiece of tense, swift, concentrated dramatic construction in which the development is not by action or incident, but is brought about almost wholly through the subtle, spontaneous dialogue. The dialogue is not usually of the kind that is aided by musical expression, nor is the complex situation that results such as suggests lyric treatment. What the composer has mainly undertaken is to illustrate and intensify the dramatic effect furnished by the constant comment of the orchestra . There are certain recurrent phrases which acquire a suggestive significance and give some unity to the composition, but there is not much time for musical elaboration in the rapid progress of the play, though this is, on the other hand, retarded by the musical requirements.

In the first act where Fedora's lover is dying in the adjoining room during the police inquiry into the assassination, an intense effect is produced in the play by the pauses, the silences, and the details of business. This matter of fact scene cannot be made musical. The orchestra keeps up a troubled accompaniment that distracts attention and does not really deepen the impression. The only important lyrical relief in this scene is Fedora's charming little soliloquy over her lover's portrait and her declaration of vengeance. These were enough to establish Madame Cavalieri in the favor of the audience.

The second act, where Fedora extracts the partial avowal from Loris during the ball, is skillfully and ingeniously elaborated, There is here much musical chatter and two or three short episodic songs. The lovers carry on their conversation in the front of the stage, while the Countess Olga's romantic Polish musician entertains her guests by playing Chopin at the piano. The scene is curiously interesting in its contrasts, though something of the acute absorption of the dialogue is lost. It is naturally in the tenor's passionate declaration of his love in the following scene where the elemental emotion overshadows the intricacies of the plot, that Giordano's gift of copious melody finds best expression. This leads to a conventional Italian love duet, which was superbly sung and made so great an impression that its repetition was demanded - thus quite destroying what remained of dramatic sincerity.

Has the Gift of Melody.

The gift of melody, of genuine Italian melody, in Giordano is undeniable. But the passages where it tells the most in "Fedora" are mainly incidental. The part of the frivolous Countess, sung by Bella Alten, is elaborated for the light soprano with some pretty little songs: Siriex, the diplomatic friend, played by Scotti. finds a baritone song in his speech about the Russian woman; the song of Savoyard is introduced with excellent effect in the last act, recurring at the end. The part of Fedora herself has such inherent dramatic power and was so admirably and beautifully portrayed by Madame Cavalieri, that one could not feel that Giordano had added very much to Sardou, not that the often noisy climaxes really intensified, if they did not obscure, the expected dramatic impression.

The general orchestral treatment often recalls Puccini, though it is never as rich or as even as Puccini's latest work, and sometimes it is trivial and disappointing. Nonetheless, the whole performance, which Vigna conducted with fine authority, proved absorbing and at times stirring and the audience was most cordial in response. Most of the effect, however, apart from that furnished by Sardou himself, was the personal contribution of Madame Cavalieri who is sure of a warm welcome when she comes again.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).