Ludwig v. Beethoven • Fidelio
Opera in two acts, Op. 72
Text by Joseph Sonnleithner, Stephan von Breuning and Georg Friedrich Treitschke
In German with English surtitles
Print programme (PDF)
Beethoven’s Fidelio is almost always given as an opera about liberation and the triumph of good over evil. Enough in the work seems to justify that view, not least of which is that Florestan’s wife finds her ways disguised as a boy into Pizarro’s dungeon and by a combination of spunk and bravery interposes herself sublimely at the opera’s climactic moment between her husband, the threatened Florestan, and Pizarro’s weapon. The almost miraculous trumpet call that signals Don Fernando’s fortunate appearance just as Pizarro is about to kill Florestan adds to the final scene’s jubilant festivity when all the prisoners are released and Beethoven’s excited music signals a new era of the defeat of injustice. And yet, the opera is deeply problematic, or so Beethoven seems to have felt. Three different versions of it exist plus four different overtures. It was his only opera, the work on which he lavished more time and effort than any other and, most ironically, the work he felt he never could get absolutely right.
Edward W. Said (1999)