There are live recordings of two of Plácido Domingo performances in Fedora, both with Mirella Freni in the title role, one from La Scala, 1993 (available on both CD and DVD), and one from the Metropolitan Opera, 1996 (available on DVD), but this is his first studio recording of the opera. Fedora receives a top-notch production that features Orchestre symphonique et choeurs de la Monnaie led by Alberto Veronesi, who continues his commitment to reviving obscure but worthy verismo operas. The orchestra and chorus perform with their characteristic polish and finesse, and while their approach comes across as somewhat reserved, Fedora, with its cast made up largely of aristocrats, is a work in which a certain level of reserve is more appropriate than in some verismo operas about the messy lives of hot-blooded peasants, for instance. Domingo, in very fine voice, doesn't stint on bringing a thoroughly Italianate passion to his role and he shines in the showcase aria, "Amor ti vieta," and in his anguished final scenes. The title role is more substantial than his and Angela Gheorghiu's sounds terrific; her performance captures the protagonist's extreme emotions effectively, appropriately dark and furious in the first act, girlish as her love awakens, and finally crazed with remorse. The smaller roles are beautifully cast and there are no weak links in the singing. Mostly unknown or little known, the singers bring first-rate voices and focused characterizations to the opera, most notably mezzo-soprano Nino Machaidze and baritone Fabio Maria Capitanucci. The main weakness of the opera is the pithiness of its libretto; climactic moments that need time to unfold slowly enough to give the music time to expand are hurried through. Fedora is a wonderfully tuneful work, though, and while it may lack the high-octane drama of Tosca or Pagliacci, its very attractive score makes it a piece that should appeal to fans of fin de siècle Italian opera. Deutsche Grammophon's engineers have lavished great care on producing a recording of the highest quality: immaculately clean, warm, full, and well-balanced.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Act 2. Canzonetta russa. La donna russa è femmina due volte / Canzonetta francese. Il parigino è come il vino
Track Listing - Disc 2