An apotheosis of love, fidelity, freedom and panhuman brotherhood
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The State OperaApproximate running time
2 hours 30 minutes, 1 intermission 20 minutesLanguage
In German, subtitles in Czech, EnglishPremiere
September 22, 2018
Story of an apotheosis of marital live and fidelity, as well as the idea of justice and pan-human brotherhood.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio is perhaps as cherished in Germany and Austria as Bedřich Smetana’s Libuše is among the Czechs. In his one and only opera, the German composer focused on the subject of abuse of political power, personal sacrifice and unceasing desire for justice and freedom. The heroine of the story is the brave Leonore, who does not hesitate to risk her own life so as to save her wrongfully imprisoned husband Florestan.
The State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
One of the most celebrated composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven is deemed to have commenced a new chapter in the history of symphonic and chamber music. Even though he had considered more than 50 subjects for opera treatment, Beethoven ultimately wrote just a single piece in the genre. The libretto to Fidelio was delivered to the composer by his friend Joseph Sonnleithner, who translated into German and adapted Jean-Nicolas Bouilly’s French text Leonora ou l’amour conjugal, highlighting the notions promoted by the “rescue opera”, extremely popular around the time of the French Revolution and depicting the hero/heroine being exposed to mortal danger and ultimately saved. The happy ending represents the victory of lofty humanistic ideals.
The story of the political prisoner Florestan and his intrepid wife Leonore, an apotheosis of marital love and fidelity, as well as the idea of justice and panhuman brotherhood, presently impressed Beethoven. Nonetheless, setting a profound ethical message not for symphony or chamber rendition but for a theatre stage, with which he had no previous experience, proved to be a truly formidable task. Following the failure of the opera’s first and second versions, the opera’s third version, premiered on 23 May 1814 in Vienna, was a success. In 1814, Fidelio was first staged in Bohemia, conducted by the then Kapellmeister of the Estates Theatre, Carl Maria von Weber. The current State Opera production is an adaptation of the opera’s final version.
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