Author Topic: Fidelio  (Read 8911 times)

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Offline CK

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Fidelio
« on: October 05, 2007, 04:43:23 AM »
I have a simple question: Do you like Fidelio?
From what I know, Beethoven's opera is not supposed to sound good.  I've heard the overture and I don't really like it.  I just want to know what you think.

O and didn't Beethoven write one opera?  What is Leonore??

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2007, 05:32:49 AM »
I don't like it, I love it. 

Originally, the opera was called Leonore (the name of the character the leading soprano plays).  The revised version was called Fidelio (her name while she's in disguised as a man).

There are several recordings of the original Leonore.
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Offline CK

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2007, 07:07:22 AM »
But I don't get what's good about Fidelio.  Mozart's operas seem to be better at every way.

Offline Catison

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2007, 07:12:50 AM »
But I don't get what's good about Fidelio.  Mozart's operas seem to be better at every way.

Just out of curiosity, what exactly is "better at every way" mean?
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Offline Anne

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2007, 07:21:42 AM »
I love Fidelio.  Which recording you get is very important regarding how you will like, or not like, this opera.  I had watched 2 DVD's of it and did not like it.

Because it was Beethoven, I made the extra effort and tried a third recording.  This one was a CD conducted by Otto Klemperer and was highly recommended by Penguin Opera Guide; it gives out Rosettes for outstanding recordings.  Anyway,Klemperer's recording was awarded a Rosette in 1956 and has not been out of print since then.

I learned the opera by listening to each track until I could hum it.  Only then did I go to the next track.  This method made learning the opera easy and enjoyable.

Since then I have heard many people complain that they can't seem to enjoy it.  I just wish they would try the recording by Klemperer and use the method I did.  Hopefully that recording and method would work for them too.

Fidelio is a beautiful opera.  Beethoven put so many melodies in it compared to his other works.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2007, 06:57:01 AM by Anne »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2007, 08:11:20 AM »
For years I didn't like Fidelio at all either, and really thought it one of Beethoven's misfires.  But then I saw this DVD of the Met's version with Karita Mattila as Leonore, who not only sings the part but acts it about as well as I can imagine.  I liked it so much I saw it live in 2006, again with Mattila but with a slightly different cast. 

In the DVD she is joined by Ben Heppner and Matthew Polenzani, among other excellent singers, and the production, by Jürgen Flimm (which debuted in 2000) is tremendously effective.  The first two acts are dark, gray, and grim, suiting the story, but in the final act, the desolation gives way to a brilliant, joyous finale. 

If you're inclined toward watching opera on DVD I would definitely give it a try.

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2007, 08:39:45 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what exactly is "better at every way" mean?

I was wondering that, too.  Especially since in his first post CK writes "I've heard the overture and I don't really like it."  Has he heard any of the rest of it.

I second the recommendations for Klemperer's EMI recording and the Met DVD, though I really wish the director hadn't decided to turn one of opera's most joyous finales into a mad scene for the seconda donna.  I usually just turn the monitor off during the finale and just listen to the music.

If I get a chance, I'll try to come back later and address the "what's good about Fidelio" question.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 08:50:28 AM by Wendell_E »
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2007, 08:50:39 AM »
I really wish the director hadn't decided to turn one of opera's most joyous finales into a mad scene for the seconda donna.  I usually just turn the monitor off during the finale and just listen to the music.

Is there another DVD that you find more satisfying?  (I haven't seen any other productions.)

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2007, 08:54:00 AM »
Is there another DVD that you find more satisfying? 

Not really.  Aside from that one little quibble, I think the Met one is fine.

I've seen the Covent Garden one with Benackova, and I saw the Bernstein/Vienna version when it was telecast a couple of decades ago.  As I recall, they were both pretty good, but I liked the Met best overall.
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Offline Marc

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2007, 09:25:20 AM »
Fidelio is a beautiful opera.  Beethoven put so many melodies in it compared to his other works.

I like Fidelio, too. It begins with a smashing Ouverture, and there are some very enjoyable and good arias, ensembles and choruses, already anticipating on the Ninth Symphony (his Lifelong Work, so to speak). But, personally, I must admit that I prefer Mozart. How he does it, I don't know, but he's able to make me feel for really every character, especially in the Da Ponte trilogy. Maybe Mozart was more in love and could sympathize more with whatever any species of the homo sapiens than his 'successor' Beethoven? :-\

Recommendations? Well, the Bernstein/Vienna production has been mentioned, and I like both the studio-CD's and the live-DVD set, with a slight preference for the live-performance. Watching Bernstein conduct, and to hear and see Lucia Popp sing "O, wär ich schon mit dir vereint" is really very moving.
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Offline yashin

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2007, 04:55:56 PM »
I have never seen this opera live or on dvd unfortunately.  I do have 2 cd versions though.  One with Harnoncourt and one with Dohnanyi.  I quite like the latter.

My head was turned by the recent LSO live cd with Davis conducting and Brewer in the title role. Its a gorgeous recoding.  The sound and playing is superb.

I would like to see the DVD with Harnoncourt from Zurich.  The cast includes Polgar and Jonas Kaufmann

Offline val

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2007, 03:31:44 AM »
Fidelio is a beautiful opera, even if the characters have not the same presence and evidence of Mozart operas.
The Choral scenes, the great aria of Leonora, the monologue of Florestan and the extraordinary Finale are among the greatest moments in German opera.

However, I prefer Weber's Freischütz, composed in the same period, because it sounds more natural and with a better theatricall construction.

My favorite versions of Fidelio are:

Klemperer, with Ludwig and Vickers, very powerful and with an extraordinary cohesion.
Furtwängler, with Flagstad and Patzak, very dramatic, but with a poor sound.

Offline max

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2007, 09:20:47 PM »
Fidelio is a beautiful opera, even if the characters have not the same presence and evidence of Mozart operas.
The Choral scenes, the great aria of Leonora, the monologue of Florestan and the extraordinary Finale are among the greatest moments in German opera.

However, I prefer Weber's Freischütz, composed in the same period, because it sounds more natural and with a better theatricall construction.

My favorite versions of Fidelio are:

Klemperer, with Ludwig and Vickers, very powerful and with an extraordinary cohesion.
Furtwängler, with Flagstad and Patzak, very dramatic, but with a poor sound.

That's strange. I listened to Der Freischütz on a Saturday afternoon and the opera it reminded me of most was Fidelio. That was 4 days before I read your post. Because of that I also wondered why Weber - himself a truly great composer - would consider Beethoven's music as that of a madman. I'm sure had Weber lived longer he would like Schubert have changed his mind eventually. Beethoven was still 'the man' at the time, Mozart being dead.

Offline val

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2007, 03:38:46 AM »
Quote
max
 
That's strange. I listened to Der Freischütz on a Saturday afternoon and the opera it reminded me of most was Fidelio. That was 4 days before I read your post. Because of that I also wondered why Weber - himself a truly great composer - would consider Beethoven's music as that of a madman. I'm sure had Weber lived longer he would like Schubert have changed his mind eventually. Beethoven was still 'the man' at the time, Mozart being dead.


Der Freischütz was completed in 1820 and Fidelio's last version in 1814. In fact, Weber conducted the first of Fidelio in Prague. He admired this opera and was influenced by it: the Aria of Kaspar seems to be inspired by Pizarro's Aria in Fidelio. But the most intersting thing is that Weber, even under the influence of Fidelio, could create a masterpiece as personal and inspired as Freischütz.

Offline mangy

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2009, 05:56:03 AM »
Until last week, the only time I had ever heard any of Beethoven's "Fidelio" was in Honolulu last year. At a concert given by a few members of the Hawaii Opera Company, the first selection was from the opening scene of "Fidelio." I was immediately enchanted by the lively repartee and abundant melodies. But I wasn't driven to listen to the "Fidelio" CD that has been untouched on my bookshelf for years. By accident, I revisited the opera a few days ago. I just happened to grab the CD on my way out to my car (that is my sanctuary for listening to opera). After hearing the 1962 Klemperer/Vickers/Ludwig performance, I kicked myself for disregarding "Fidelio" all these years. I even liked the nuances of the spoken dialogue. Whether the music is grandiose or meditative, "Fidelio" is a treat. I have heard only the Klemperer version, so I can't make comparisons. But I doubt that any other performance could be as earnest and enthusiastic.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2009, 01:23:55 AM »
My first LP set of Fidelio was Karajan's, mainly because I'd seen Helga Dernesch perform the role of Leonore with Scottish Opera, and wanted a memento of her performance. I had always loved this set; however, when I came to replace LP with CD, I bowed to popular opinion, and purchased the Klemperer recording.

I am in a minority, I know (and I know this could well be because the Karajan was the one I'd got to know the opera with), but I was a mite disappointed with Klemperer, and a couple of years ago I replaced it with the Karajan. Returning to this performance after many years, it was exactly as I remembered; thrillingly dramatic, wonderfully played by the orchestra, and marvellously sung by a superb cast (all, mercifully, delivering their own dialogue). Many have said that they can hear the strain the role of Leonore puts on Dernesch, but I believe that they are being wise after the event (Dernesch, you will remember, retired from the opera stage for a while, after suffering a vocal crisis, and re-emerged a dramatic mezzo). To my ears, she sounds absolutely radiant, the climax to Abscheulicher!, shiningly and glowingly achieved. From her first entrance in the Act I canon, which is as a ray of light in the gloom of the prison, she is the very epitome of the faithful Leonore. I prefer her even to Ludwig on the Klemperer. Vickers is, if anything, even finer for Karajan than he was for Klemperer. Keleman's snarling bass-baritone seems to me just right for the evil Pizzaro (superbly matched by Karajan's blaring brass in his aria), and Ridderbusch makes a fatherly, kindly Rocco. With Jose Van Dam as Ferrando and Helen Donath as Marzelline (like Schwarzkopf, who sang the role for Furtwangler, an Eva of note), the cast could hardly be bettered. Karajan's tempi in the more dramatic moments of the score are usually that bit faster than Klemperer's (the moment when Leonore reveals herself is urgently thrilling), but he has plenty of repose in the more lyrical and reflective moments too.
 
Fidelio is a great opera, and there is no doubt the Klemperer is a great recording, but my personal preference is for Karajan, which works for me on a slightly more visceral level.

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Offline Rod Corkin

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2009, 01:36:22 AM »
I have a simple question: Do you like Fidelio?
From what I know, Beethoven's opera is not supposed to sound good.  I've heard the overture and I don't really like it.  I just want to know what you think.

O and didn't Beethoven write one opera?  What is Leonore??

You don't know a great deal judging from this post, a decent performance of Fidelio is as good as it gets in the world of opera.
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Offline Harpo

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2009, 06:03:53 AM »
For years I didn't like Fidelio at all either, and really thought it one of Beethoven's misfires.  But then I saw this DVD of the Met's version with Karita Mattila as Leonore, who not only sings the part but acts it about as well as I can imagine.  I liked it so much I saw it live in 2006, again with Mattila but with a slightly different cast. 



--Bruce


The last time we were in NY we had a choice between Fidelio and La Traviata at the Met. I chose the latter because it was more well known and I vaguely remembered from college that Fidelio wasn't that good. Well, we were bored with La Traviata (famous arias, but it took too long for one woman to cough and die) and wished we had tried Beethoven. I'm going to look for the DVD now to see what we missed.
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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2009, 06:06:23 AM »
I never could get too excited about Fidelio, don't see Beethoven as an opera composer, but this one I put in my collection because Jonas Kaufmann gives something to the performance I have not seen, nor heard before, making the opera acceptable, at least to me:

« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 06:08:11 AM by Brünnhilde ewig »

Offline Valentino

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2009, 08:17:24 AM »
Ah, the curly haired one. But of course.  ;D
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