Fedora, Holland Park Theatre, London

2.00

Fedora is a role most notable for the attentions of famous sopranos in, let's just say, the twilight of their careers. The fabulously wealthy Russian princess is a presence throughout Giordano's almost perversely cheesy but furtively enjoyable opera. She's grand, glamorous, flirtatious; she falls in love - twice; she wears vengeance like haute couture; and she certainly knows how to make an entrance.

So I'm not entirely sure that it was wise of director John Lloyd Davies to pre-empt it with the spectral arrival and departure of his star, Yvonne Kenny, during the opera's brief orchestral prelude. In any event, she was a nice idea for the role, graciously carrying off Bob Bailey's ostentatious frocks, while deflecting our attentions from the rather less ostentatious set.

Fedora is without peer in its extremes of pathos and bathos. Its web of intrigue unfolds from way beyond the drawing rooms of its rich and famous. Never was so much plot relayed in so much detail and in such comfort. We are asked to believe in nihilists the way Peter Pan asks us to believe in fairies, and when Fedora reveals that her crucifix contains the remedy for all ills, we might rightly assume she will at some point demonstrate its effectiveness. Add a celebrity pianist who parodies Chopin and you know for sure that you have arrived in the operatic equivalent of la-la land.

That pianist provides one of Giordano's more innovative musical devices, in that he alone underscores the crucial scene in act two where Fedora extracts a confession of guilt from her lover's alleged murderer. For the rest, dramatic incredulity is tempered with some surprisingly subtle orchestral colorations, efficiently pointed up by conductor Brad Cohen, and two stonkingly unsubtle (and much-loved) duets for our heroine and the object of her hatred and heart's desire - the tenor. Aldo Di Toro has a wonderfully natural, open sound throughout the range - a name to watch.

Yvonne Kenny is a name we have watched and a talent we have savoured over the years. The distinctive sound has grown a little grainier, the top of the voice now closes more than it opens to the big moments. But Fedora is a role well-anchored in the middle and bottom of the vocal compass. Kenny still makes valiant attempts at difficult dynamic nuancing and goes for the climaxes with somewhat more determination than the voice can muster.

After one such climax - the foreplay to a night of love - she lets slip the words "in my arms you shall find another mother". Not, perhaps, what the tenor wanted to hear, but a line entirely in keeping with the spirit of the evening.

To 23 June; festival to 5 August (0845 230 9769)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?