I am now listening to Beethoven’s opera.
I’m up to CD 62 and this is the first time voices enter the scene.
There’s a reason for that.
Beethoven only wrote one opera.
Here’s the poop on Fidelio, according to its entry on Wiikipedia:
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.
Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of opera. Much (most? all?) of it is dreck.
So, I’m usually wincing by the time one of my musical explorations enters the realm of opera.
Today’s foray into the world of opera is different for several reasons:
1. It’s Beethoven. So the music leading up to the singing is very good. It’s holding my attention.
2. This is Beethoven’s only opera, which gives it the weight of importance (at least in my mind).
3. It’s in German, which is a language that never fails to make me chuckle.
NPR posted a good review/commentary of Beethoven’s Leonore. Here’s an excerpt:
For ages, Leonore was viewed as little more than a flawed first draft of Fidelio. But over the last decade or two, interest in Beethoven’s earlier version has increased, even resulting in several recordings.
Some conductors who have taken interest in Leonore, like Nicholas McGegan (who conducts this concert), feel that the emotional content of Beethoven’s earlier version is more pure, intense and immediate.
The opera is imbued with Beethoven’s vision of freedom from political oppression, sparked by the ideals of the French Revolution. One writer described it as the story of “a woman, disguised as a prison worker, who liberates her husband, and strikes a blow for freedom, feminism, and prison reform.”
This recording is remarkably clear and clean. Every nuance is captured. The performers are superb. And that’s a biggie for me. There’s a certain range of voice that Continue reading