Listen to a Sample:
Sometimes operas are obscure for a reason, and sometimes they are Fedra. This is a real diamond in the rough, a simmering, shamelessly melodramatic tragedy that honors its roots in greek tragedy without getting bogged down in bathos. The title role, that of an Athenian Queen who destroys her stepson Ippolito after he rejects her love, dominates the opera totally and provides an ideal showcase for the great soprano Régine Crespin. From her commanding pronouncements in act one (which ends with her ritualistically sacrificing her rival) to the mad scene that closes the opera, Crespin delivers a performance of startling intensity. With the exception of the great basso Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, who is gripping in a lengthy third act monologue describing the death of Ippolito, the others singers don't get much of a chance to shine. Gastone Limarelli is an attractive, light-voiced Ippolito and Dino Dondi is gruff and thunderous in the brief but important role of Fedra's husband. The sound is generally pretty good for 1959, though the quality varies. Thankfully, the quality of the opera does not.