A Russian princess, a murdered fiancé, fatal misunderstanding, poison… count me in ! As a rarely performed verismo piece in the opera repertoire, how was I to pass up my chance to see such a tempestuous treat as Fedora ?! While Umberto Giordano may not be as well-known a composer as Verdi or Puccini, his glorious melodies were worthy of all the passion and praise heaped onto his compatriots.
Once again, the Met’s new Fedora was a David McVicar production, which initially evoked a stifled yawn from me. Lately, his productions have been starting to look the same and I was in no humor for a repeat. Surprisingly kept traditional and set in the early 1880’s, the sets and costumes (and jewels !) were over the top in opulence, especially Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s gowns with their copious displays of bustled satin skirts and cuirasse bodices. Boredom ? What boredom ?!
The singers themselves were fine; Sonya Yoncheva and Piotr Beczała were a verismo power couple with comedic blips from Rosa Feola and Lucas Meacham. But while the visual glamours and vocal displays were enlivening, my favorite part of the performance occurred during one of Giordano’s masterful orchestral interludes when Fedora reunited and danced with her deceased “ghost” fiancé in her Parisian apartment. Perhaps that was a theatrical invention on McVicar’s part, but the powerful combination of tender passion and heartrending music gave me trouble in preventing sooty tears from streaming down my cheek. Enchanting !!
“The name’s Fedora… Princess Fedora.” I have my dear friend, Faith, to thank for the inspiration for my outfit. A few years ago on my birthday, Faith gifted me with the most gorgeous beaded rhinestone appliqué belt. My eyes were dazzled at its sight and the thoughts of rich ball gowns waltzed through my head. Unfortunately, many metal-plated settings tarnish to pewter with no auxiliary assistance and so in order to not be disappointed by a lackluster embellishment, I let the belt sit unattended for over two years to “test” its mettle (and metal ─ ha !). The result was encouraging; not a single change came to its patina during its prescribed indolence. Its time to shine was now.
Because the gown on which I was to use the belt was to be a tribute of thanks to Faith, it had to be royal blue, no question ! Faith’s favorite color is blue. The satin was ordered months in advance. However, I did not begin work on the dress until nearly three weeks before the opera ! Fortunately, through Tatiana Kozorovitsky’s detailed lessons in her Dressmaking Academy, I was not in a panic since I knew the secrets of cutting and sewing couture gowns with marked celerity. This endeavour proved no different, although I was exceedingly pleased with the fit of the bodice in comparison to past gowns I’ve made. Experience really does help !
A cold front rendered the need for a coat and boy, did I have a pretty one ! This vintage fur-trimmed, gold and cream brocade coat was bought years ago at a resale store.
Cheap white gloves (Walmart’s finest), and an economical crown bought on Amazon made me feel like the regal princess I intended.
I told my mother that I wanted my hairstyle to look like one of Kate Middleton’s elegant chignons…
Not bad !
Thank you, Faith, for the most beautiful inspiration piece ! It made my gown absolutely perfect. Feeling like an imperial princess of the surest nature, I was able to surrender to all the charms and passions of the performance. Isn’t that what opera is about, anyway ?
Toi, Toi, Toi,
Cast and Credits:
Fedora ─ Umberto Giordano (1898)
Live in HD air date: January 14, 2023
Fedora ─ Sonya Yoncheva
Loris Ipanoff ─ Piotr Beczała
Olga ─ Rosa Feola
De Siriex ─ Lucas Meacham
Conductor ─ Marco Armiliato
Production ─ David McVicar
Set Designer ─ Charles Edwards
Costume Designer ─ Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designer ─ Adam Silverman
Movement Director ─ Sara Erde
Live in HD Director ─ Gary Halvorson
Host ─ Christine Goerke