There are only two video recordings of Giodarno’s Fedora in the catalogue. There’s a classic 1996 recording from the Met and, now, a 2015 production from the Teatro Carlo Fenice in Genoa. The Genoa version, directed by Rosetta Cucchi, attempts to inject some serious ideas into the piece, which the Met production most certainly does not. Whether this is a good idea is questionable for Fedora, even though it contains some good numbers and some great melodies is, dramatically, about as clichéd as it gets. Cucchi attacks this problem in two ways. First, an old version of Loris Ipanov is on stage throughout observing the action and dies at the end. I’m not sure what this adds. Second, at various points a mime/ballet sequence is staged behind the main stage area. This seems like an attempt to link the narrative specifically to WW1 and the death of the Romanovs which seems odd as the ending makes no sense in a post-revolutionary context. So, I’m not sure the idea is sound and I’m not sure the piece would carry the freight even if it were. The rather quirky video direction by Matteo Ricchetti doesn’t help either as it’s often hard to figure out what is going on in total.
So let’s just consider what’s going on in the main narrative. This is largely straightforward with the three acts playing out pretty much by the book with sets and costumes period appropriate and conventional enough blocking. The performances from the two principals; Daniela Dessi as Fedora Romazov and Fabio Armiliato as Loris are excellent. They are both in fine voice and knock the big numbers out of the park. They also look and sound younger than Freni and Domingo in the other recording. Sadly the supporting cast is not nearly as strong and, in particular, I found Darla Kovalenko’s Olga hard to take. She’s vivacious as an actress but the voice, while light and flexible, is not ideally sweet toned. Overall, the Met wins big in the supporting cast. The Genoa orchestra and chorus though sound fine and Valerio Galli gets the most out of the big tunes.
The new recording is available on Blu-ray with an excellent HD picture and fine DTS-HD MA sound (stereo too). There aren’t any extras and the booklet (synopsis, essay and track listing) doesn’t have anything to say about the production. This could really have used an interview or at least some notes. Subtitle options are English, Italian, German, French, Korean and Japanese.
So there you have it. Both available recordings have very fine performances from the principals. The Met has a much better supporting cast and a decorative production of no great depth. Genoa at least tries to probe what the work is about and, of course, is technically far superior as a recording.