Fidelio (concertante), Opera by Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven famously tried his hand at the opera genre only once to create Fidelio, a single creative effort that would stay with the great composer for years to come. Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence revives the ultimate version of Beethoven’s one-off wonder in an intriguing concert format. Under the leadership of the conductor Zubin Mehta, the theatre’s orchestra and a full cast of singers present Fidelio (concertante) for your exquisite listening enjoyment.
Fidelio started its life under the title Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe (German for Leonore, or The Triumph of Marital Love). The story was the brainchild of French librettist Jean-Nicolas Bouilly; Joseph Sonnleithner supplied the German libretto. Theater an der Wien in Vienna hosted the premiere on 20 November 1805. With an audience full of French occupying forces, the German-language performance did not fare too well. Beethoven undertook two revisions in the coming decade, arriving at the final version of Fidelio on 23 May 1814 with a premiere at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna. The story of the Spanish nobleman Florestan’s political imprisonment at the hands of the evil Pizarro and the dedication of his wife Leonore to restore his freedom had finally found its true operatic form for the ages.
Knowing the amount of effort Beethoven put into the final version of Fidelio will help you appreciate the concert performance of the opera in Florence even more. The brave and cunning Leonore’s struggle to liberate her husband Florestan from his prison carries over in the performance of the powerful and talented soloists marvellously. The opera’s standout numbers, like Florestan’s aria ‘In des Lebens Frühlingstagen’ or the couple’s jubilant duet ‘O namenlose Freude’, tug at the heartstrings. The powerful prisoner’s chorus ‘O welche Lust’ makes a towering statement in favour of freedom and justice, themes to which Beethoven felt an intimate connection throughout his musical career. Under the passionate lead of Zubin Mehta, the talented musicians and singers of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino do his only opera justice and put on an inspired performance.