According to its entry on Wikipedia:
Fidelio (Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe: Leonore, or The Triumph of Married Love) (Op. 72) is a German opera with spoken dialogue in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is his only opera. The German libretto was prepared by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and the 1804 opera Leonora by Ferdinando Paer (a score of which was owned by Beethoven).
The opera tells how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio”, rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison.
Oddly enough, even though Fidelio and Leonore are essentially the same opera they are worlds apart in presentation. In other words, Fidelio is nothing I’d ever listen to on my own. The voices are like fingernails on a chalk board. The music is bland.
Yet, Leonore I could listen to multiple times because I was drawn in from the start…and captivated to the end.
And this night-and-day difference between the two has nothing to do with the performers or the musicians. They are absolutely top notch on today’s CD, with Sir Colin Davis directing the London Symphony Orchestra and a host of world-class singers to give life to Beethoven’s story. It doesn’t get much better than that.
But Fidelio is cringe worthy.
And to think I have to endure part two tomorrow.