Home > Fidelio
|Beethoven, L. v. (1770-1827)
|Composed 1804-1805; revised 1806, 1814.
First performed November 20, 1805; March 26, 1806; May 23, 1814.
Libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner and Georg Friedrich Treitschte (in German),
In the 16th century, in Seville, Spain, the governor
of the prison, Don Pizarro, puts Florestan into prison on a false charge.
Florestan, who is a politician, attempted to expose Pizarro’s injustice. So,
Pizarro confined Florestan in a dungeon.
Florestan’s wife, Leonore, tries to rescue him from
the dungeon. She uses the male name, “Fidelio,” and dresses
in men’s clothes. And, she works as an errand boy of the jailer, Rocco. She
works faithfully for two years, so she gains Rocco’s confidence. Rocco’s
daughter, Marzelline, rejects her father’s assistant, Jacquino, who hopes to
marry her. She hopes to marry “Fidelio.”
Then, Pizarro heard that the Minister of Justice, Don Fernando, will come to
the prison in order to inspect injustice of the prison. Pizarro decides
to kill Florestan in secret.
Pizarro orders the jailer, Rocco, to dig a grave, so
Rocco orders Fidelio to help him. Fidelio has watched for an opportunity to rescue Florestan,
and she only now notices that the physically and emotionally worn out man in
the dungeon is her husband.
Pizarro appears in the dungeon. When he attempts to
stab Florestan to death with a sword, Fidelio interrupts him. She
discloses her true character, she is Florestan’s wife.
Then, the Minister of Justice, Don Fernando, arrives
at the prison. He is pleased to meet his sworn friend, Florestan, again. He had
thought that Florestan died. Pizarro is arrested by the Minister. Fidelio,
that is, Leonore removes Florestan’s handcuffs. The
Minister blesses Leonore and Florestan with love and justice.
|The great composer, Ludwig van Beethoven, composed
only one opera. It is the opera, “Fidelio.” This opera is a pioneering opera
from Germany. A characteristic of this opera is that it expresses Beethoven’s
personality. For example, the main theme of this opera is justice and love
between a wife and husband. This opera is far from a love affair or a laugh.
For good or evil, Beethoven’s sober thought is expressed in “Fidelio.”
Beethoven is good at composing symphonies, piano sonatas, and other instrumental
music. Beethoven also composed a lot of songs that have natural melodies.
However, he composed this opera based on of his instrumental music. So,
it is difficult for singers to smoothly sing some of the melody lines in
this opera. Both Florestan’s and Leonore’s arias are especially very
difficult to sing. We can appreciate opera singers’ mastery by listening
to their arias.
Beethoven revised this opera three times, in addition
to that, he rearranged the last scene ten times. Each successive change on
deepened the richness of the content. The “Leonore overture” like the
intermezzo played in act 2 is Beethoven’s great music. You can enjoy the great
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