Printer Friendly

`FEDORA' HAS PASSION, DESPITE POOR STAGING.

Byline: Reed Johnson Daily News Staff Writer

Placido Domingo is a great weeper. You can hear a sob catch hold of his voice and bend it into a magnificent, tragic wail. His pain erupts in elegant convulsions that somehow make grief seem like the most macho of all emotions. In popular culture (to which the Spanish tenor now belongs), you won't find a sweeter brokenhearted tough guy this side of Elvis Presley.

Since 1984, L.A. Opera devotees have had several chances to catch Domingo's radiant crying jags, including last season's ``Pagliacci.'' Now we have him shedding manly tears once again in the smaller role of Loris Ipanov, star-crossed lover of the doomed Russian princess Fedora Romazoff (Maria Ewing) in Umberto Giordano's ``Fedora.'' L.A. Opera's season-opening production, which originated at Milan's La Scala opera house, continues at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through Sept. 20, in repertory with ``La Boheme.''

First and foremost, ``Fedora'' is a deliberately mushy, uber-sensationalistic melodrama, a made-for-TV movie in the grand verismo manner of late 19th-century Italian opera. It crams several weeks' worth of convoluted plotting into two frenetic hours, while pandering to the brazenly sentimental mind-set of its original audience. (Don't forget, this is an opera that hits an emotional crescendo when its hero sings tenderly of his dear old mama.) Its backdrop of political intrigue, including an anti-czarist coup, is mostly exotic window-dressing. Chekhov this isn't.

Still, the tragic events of last Sunday in Paris make ``Fedora's'' fin de siecle world of scheming, idle aristocrats seem not quite so silly as it otherwise might. Jet-setting from St. Petersburg to Paris to a Swiss mountain villa, ``Fedora'' is fueled by its namesake's quest to avenge her fiance's murder. Suspecting that Loris is the villain, Fedora seduces him in hopes he'll cough up proof of the crime. Needless to say with this operatic genre, her plan backfires horribly.

Such shamelessly entertaining impulses create possibilities that go largely unrealized in David Edwards' oddly colorless production. Actors often are bunched together in anonymous clumps. Background events, such as the live piano performance in Act II, are allowed to be upstaged. The giant turntable proves needlessly distracting, and there's a notable absence of frisson between the leads and the secondary players, as if they'd rehearsed in separate rooms. When Domingo gets his one aria, ``Amor ti vieta,'' the staging leaves him standing next to a scraggly potted plant.

Even so, he and Ewing generate a fair amount of sexual and musical chemistry, though the latter's voice sounded thin at the high registers. Baritone Richard Stilwell brings a wily edge to the French diplomat De Siriex, and Susannah Waters is wonderful as the mischievously bored Countess Olga Sukarev.

THE FACTS

What: L.A. Opera production of Giordano's ``Fedora.''

Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center of Los Angeles County, 135 N. Grand Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7, 10, 17, 20; 2 p.m. Sept. 14.

Tickets: $24-$135. Call (213) 365-3500.

Our rating: Two Stars.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: In the L.A. Opera production of ``Fedora'' at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Maria Ewing plays the title role, with Placido Domingo as Loris.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Theater Review
Date:Sep 5, 1997
Words:528
Previous Article:SNEAK PEEK : `GUTHRIE' BOUND FOR GLORY AT GEER THEATRICUM.
Next Article:POP/SNEAK PEEK : FOR SISTER HAZEL, OLD SONG IS NEW HIT.
Topics:


Related Articles
A SHARP, STYLISH 'MISANTHROPE'.
PARTY LINES : SHARING A COMMITMENT TO LIFE.
KID WITH A CAUSE PARTIES ON.
VICTORIAN ERA'S TRIAL OF THE CENTURY.
`PASSION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MISERY'; IT ALL BEGINS WITH `FEDORA' AT L.A. OPERA.
TEENS TO REPRISE `GUYS AND DOLLS'.
FREQUENT COLLABORATOR SAADIQ IS ON HIS OWN.
EDITORIAL LET THERE BE LIGHTS ONLY IN L.A. IS BASIC PUBLIC SAFETY CONSIDERED A LUXURY.
THE BUZZ IT'S TIES THAT BIND FOR 'JOE MILLIONAIRE' GAL.
CHANNELING CHANDLER IN HARD-BOILED 'DAHLIA'.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters