Author Topic: Fidelio  (Read 13567 times)

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Offline knight66

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #60 on: September 16, 2016, 10:17:58 AM »
There are so many cross dressing traditions in theatre, pantomime, Kabuki, Indian Kalakathi dance, and so on. I am unclear how subversive or transgressive it was internded to be in the operas we have mentioned, or whether it was more of a musical device. Strauss seemed not to much like tenors, but love the female voice.

I do really prefer the to listen to most of these operas rather than watch them. We have to suspend disbelief so much for opera to succeed dramatically; but I need the internal world it creats to really work and not jar me back into losing that vital belief in what I see and hear.

Mike
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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #61 on: September 17, 2016, 01:57:00 AM »
However, most female opera singers cannot manage even an approximate simulation of being a man. One who did it and was totally convincing is Sarah Connelly the English Mezzo. The evidence is on the Handel Julius Caesar DVD from Glyndbourne. Within five minutes I was no longer thinking of her as a woman pretending to be a man.


I thought Karita Mattila was pretty convincing in the telecast/DVD of Met production, and later when I saw her in the same production at Houston Grand Opera.  But most, yeah, Rocco & Co. would have to be blind and deaf not to notice something.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #62 on: September 17, 2016, 08:56:45 AM »
A long time ago at a party I was introduced to an old woman who was being treated like a precious object to be papmered. She was long a widow and someone suggested to her an elderly man in the room in whom she might take an interest.  Her tart reply was spoken loudly, slowly and distinctly. "I NEVER dance with a man who has larger breasts than I do myself."

I saw Helge Dernsch sing Fidelio at the peak of her soprano years. She was wonderful and in the final scene there was a striking moment when she disclosed who she was, by pulling off her hat and allowing her long golden hair to tumble about her shoulders.

As you say however, the people on stage must have been overlooking her very clear endowments, despite them being strapped down.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2016, 01:19:27 PM »


I saw Helge Dernsch sing Fidelio at the peak of her soprano years. She was wonderful and in the final scene there was a striking moment when she disclosed who she was, by pulling off her hat and allowing her long golden hair to tumble about her shoulders.


Mike

I saw that same production when it came to Newcastle upon Tyne, my first exposure to Fidelio, and also to Dernesch, whom I saw also the following year as a sublime and ultra feminine Marschallin.

I don't remember having any problems suspending belief in Fidelio, and Dernesch was superb, in a completely different league from her colleagues, good though they were. I was so taken by her performance that I bought the Karajan recording soon after it came out, and it's still my favourite recording of the work. Some say that they can hear the strain the role took on her voice, but I think they are being wise after the event. To my ears, she sound absolutely radiant. her entry into the canon in the first act gleaming through like a shaft of light.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2016, 01:45:46 PM »
I agree with all of that about the recording. I bought it as soon as it was issued and have never understood the critically cool reception. It is regularily ignored in surveys. I like it best of the recordings I have and prefer Dernesch to Ludwig.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #65 on: September 29, 2016, 12:08:02 AM »
I agree with all of that about the recording. I bought it as soon as it was issued and have never understood the critically cool reception. It is regularily ignored in surveys. I like it best of the recordings I have and prefer Dernesch to Ludwig.

Mike

I too prefer Dernesch to Ludiwg and I find Karajan's conducting incisively dramatic, the casting excellent from top to bottom. Definitely my favourite of all the recordings I've heard.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Dedalus

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #66 on: October 13, 2016, 08:22:14 PM »
Here are my thoughts on Fidelio, typed on a phone, so hopefully I can get through this with a semblance of grammar.

I really like the opera, particularly the story. The music is good, but Mozart is just in another league in this respect I think.  I tend to really love strong female characters and boy is Lenore one of them. First of all, essentially all the events of the opera are orchestrated by her. She pretends to be a man and conconcts this plan to save her man and she carries through with it more or less flawlessly.

The pure baddassery (can I say that here?) of her is to me exemplified toward the end when the bad guy (forget his name) shows up with a knife to spoil the day and what does Lenore do? Prepared as she was for this contingency she pulls out a #!$@ing gun and essentially says "Ah hell no you don't. I came here to rescue my man, you're a piece of garbage, and we're gonna go now. Peace."

Honestly I even get chills thinking about the depth of her love for Florestan, how much she was willing to risk for him, and just how much planning went into her rescue attempt. Assuming a disguise for weeks, convincing people to help her without giving away her true intentions and all that.

A hero rescuing a damsel in distress is fine and can make for a wonderful story. However, sometimes it's nice to have a heroin saving her dude in distress and in this opera she totally kicks butt.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 08:25:37 PM by Dedalus »

Offline knight66

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #67 on: October 13, 2016, 11:49:59 PM »
Yep, I agree with all of that. One of the amazing things about the opera is that it was the only and therefore first opera that Beethoven wrote. It did go through one major overhaul to get it to the version we commonly hear now. But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?

A lot of the music is on such a spine tingling level, the quartet in Act 1, Leonora's big aria, the prisoners chorus and many other passages. I have always been uncomfortable at the way Marzelline is dealt with. Her developing relationship with Fidelio is thrust aside and she just has to look happy about it.

The first time I saw the opera the Leonora was a, then, young Helge Dernsch. She is tall and was very attractive. She was dressed as a man, was fairly convincing and sang excitingly. In the last scene when she declares who she is, she tore off her knitted hat and her real blond hair cascaded over her shoulders. It was so striking. So although I usually have problems watching a woman play a man and convince me, it worked well then.

What recording do you have of it and have you seen it in the theatre?

Mike
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #68 on: October 14, 2016, 01:50:58 AM »
Yep, I agree with all of that. One of the amazing things about the opera is that it was the only and therefore first opera that Beethoven wrote. It did go through one major overhaul to get it to the version we commonly hear now. But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?
I think it received two overhauls (but the second one was more radical) and it would not have been an early debut even for the first version. But I agree that considering how much trouble he had with the piece and the tensions that still remain between the comic and heroic elements it is an amazing piece and it also has been on stage regularly since the 1820s.

Quote
A lot of the music is on such a spine tingling level, the quartet in Act 1, Leonora's big aria, the prisoners chorus and many other passages. I have always been uncomfortable at the way Marzelline is dealt with. Her developing relationship with Fidelio is thrust aside and she just has to look happy about it.
I have never really heard the earlier version but there was more of a Fidelio-Marzelline-lovestory in there. But this probably made the lack of resolution for Marzelline even worse and those Singspiel-style elements distracted from the heroic action therefore Beethoven was probably right to cut it.
The only way to handle it is probably to understand her crush on Fidelio as hope to break from the overfamiliar and the narrow petit bourgeois life she is accustomed to. I do find her aria ("Ach wär ich schon mit Dir vereint", especially the central section: "Die Hoffnung schon erfüllt die Brust..." that parallels semantically Leonore's "Komm Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern") a moving and usually underappreciated piece that gives voice to these sentiments of being destined to a narrow domestic fate. An early piece of women's lib, so to speak. ;)
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Offline Dedalus

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #69 on: October 14, 2016, 05:46:38 AM »
 I am not positive if Knight's post was directed at me, but I'll answer his final question.  The Fidelio I saw was the one on youtube directed by Harnocourt and has Jonas Kaufman as Fidelio.  It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSYUEAtZiZw

I have never seen Fidelio or any live classical show opera or otherwise ever in my life.  I don't have very much money, but I do have an internet connection, which has allowed me to enjoy a bunch of gems for free.

Not to mention the fact that even though I live near Kansas City there is next to no classical music scene.  There is an orchestra but the things it programs just aren't interesting to me.  It's been a while since I looked at what it has lined up, so maybe I should check and see if there is anything worth attending.  There is also the fact that if I did attend, it would certainly be alone, and I have some social anxiety issues so the whole thing just seems frightening to me.  I'd rather listen and watch in the comfort of my own home.  If I had a single friend into classical music that might change, but the fact of hte matter is that nobody I have ever spoken to in real life has any interest in it, and those are the polite ones.  Many people seem to have a reaction of implied revulsion to it, thinking I'm weird for liking it, etc... It doesn't stop me from mentioning it to anybody who asks about my interests--they asked after all.  But time after time I get only ambivalent to negative responses to this interest (among others, like the game of Go--if they've even heard of it).
« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 05:52:58 AM by Dedalus »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #70 on: October 14, 2016, 06:03:02 AM »
I am not positive if Knight's post was directed at me, but I'll answer his final question.  The Fidelio I saw was the one on youtube directed by Harnocourt and has Jonas Kaufman as Fidelio.  It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSYUEAtZiZw

I have never seen Fidelio or any live classical show opera or otherwise ever in my life.  I don't have very much money, but I do have an internet connection, which has allowed me to enjoy a bunch of gems for free.

Not to mention the fact that even though I live near Kansas City there is next to no classical music scene.  There is an orchestra but the things it programs just aren't interesting to me.  It's been a while since I looked at what it has lined up, so maybe I should check and see if there is anything worth attending.  There is also the fact that if I did attend, it would certainly be alone, and I have some social anxiety issues so the whole thing just seems frightening to me.  I'd rather listen and watch in the comfort of my own home.  If I had a single friend into classical music that might change, but the fact of hte matter is that nobody I have ever spoken to in real life has any interest in it, and those are the polite ones.  Many people seem to have a reaction of implied revulsion to it, thinking I'm weird for liking it, etc... It doesn't stop me from mentioning it to anybody who asks about my interests--they asked after all.  But time after time I get only ambivalent to negative responses to this interest (among others, like the game of Go--if they've even heard of it).

Not to derail comments on Fidelio, but thank goodness for the Internet, which does make many operas -- and complete concerts -- available to anyone. Separately, it does make me a little sad that KC's orchestra (which is a good one) doesn't opt for more interesting programming. Many orchestras around the country are doing interesting things (probably food for another thread).

And hope you find a KC pal or two to discuss these things with, but in the meantime, glad you can talk about classical music here, with the rest of us weirdos!  8)

OK, back to Beethoven.

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Offline knight66

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #71 on: October 14, 2016, 08:53:37 AM »
Daedalus, Thanks for your reply. I hope you enjoy your time here. As Bruce suggests we are probably all wierd for most of the folk we encounter. Your isolation from people who share you interest must be quite tough, well, very tough. There sure is an amazing amout of free performances on Youtube, Kaufman is one of the very best tenors singing at the moment. He is especially good as Florestan.

What kind of music have you been enjoying, apart from Fidelio of course?

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #72 on: October 17, 2016, 06:47:30 AM »
But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?




I can think of a few.

Debussy (Pelleas et Melisande)
Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Britten (Peter Grimes)

Of these, though, only Britten had further major successes in the genre.

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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #73 on: October 17, 2016, 06:49:08 AM »
I can think of a few.

Debussy (Pelleas et Melisande)
Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Britten (Peter Grimes)

Of these, though, only Britten had further major successes in the genre.

And Britten only counts if you ignore Paul Bunyan, which was a major failure.

Berg's Wozzeck certainly qualifies, though, and he followed it up with another opera that was nearly equally successful.
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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #74 on: October 17, 2016, 07:07:45 AM »
But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?

Not sure about "classic repertoire piece", but Monteverdi, Bartok, Glass and Adams composed highly notable and revered (to varying degrees) operas at the first attempt.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #75 on: October 18, 2016, 05:14:29 AM »
It's also interesting to note that the two major composers of opera in the nineteenth century (Verdi and Wagner) took a while to get it right.

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Offline Alberich

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #76 on: October 18, 2016, 05:33:21 AM »
It's also interesting to note that the two major composers of opera in the nineteenth century (Verdi and Wagner) took a while to get it right.

And their breakthrough opera was 3rd one, although nowadays Wagner's Rienzi is rarely performed whereas Nabucco is still quite popular (if not to the extent of, say, Rigoletto).
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Offline Que

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #77 on: December 13, 2016, 03:18:32 AM »
Cross post from the listening thread:

Beethoven: Fidelio, Act 2 [Furtwangler]....





This is a recording of variable quality,ranging from good to quite poor [especially the opening overture]. This is a pity as it is an overall excellent live performance from all concerned. The overture, however, is electric. Flagstad and Schwarzkopf both sing wonderfully and the male voices are masterful and sonorous. Furtwangler directs a taut, masterful and powerful performance. A wonderful performance if you can get past the sound quality.


I love Furtwängler's way with Fidelio!  :) "Electric" is on the mark...

Furtwängler recorded the opera four times:
1) live in Salzburg 1948, (incomplete) with Erna Schlüter, Lisa della Casa, Julius Patzak,  Rudolf Schock et al;
2) live in Salzburg 1950, pictured above and previously issued by EMI;
3) live in Salzburg 1953, with Martha Mödl, Sena Jurinac, Wolfgang Windgassen, Rudolf Schock, Otto Edelmann, Gottlob Frick, Alfred Poell;
4) the "offical" EMI recording from1953 with almost identical cast as no. 3.

Since the 1st recording in incomplete (with a reportedly weak cast and badly recorded) and the commercial EMI recording is dull as as dish water and omits allmost al of the dialogues the real contenders are the 1950 and 1953 live recordings. I feel Flagstad is a clear miscast, but that is up to personal taste. She sings like an ocean steamer, which is too slow and heavy for this role and this music.... I am generally not so keen on Schwarzkopf and respond more to the aching, heartfelt beauty of Sena Jurinac' voice. The big trump of the 1948 performance has IMO is Julius Patzak. But overall I agree with John Ardoin's assessment his "The Furtwängler Record" and prefer the 1953 recording with tighter ensemble work and in an electric performance that propels the music in an arch of tension running from start to finish. The difference with the performance by same cast on the commercial recording is baffling....Furtwängler really did loose his magic in the studio... The main problem with the 1953 recording was the availability. I had in for years on an Italian "pirate" edition in rather muffled sound - the sound you get when you listen to a Xth generation copy...


Enter Andante Records (now defunct) with a restored recording directly taken from the radio tapes. Off course it is still live from Salzburg with those typical "boxy" acoustics and the noisy wooden stage. But the recording has good presence and is low on distortion. The issue is paired with another very fine live performance of Fidelio from 1944 by Karl Böhm.

Strongly recommended.  :)

Q
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 12:40:27 AM by Que »
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Offline king ubu

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #78 on: December 13, 2016, 11:11:14 AM »
Enter Andante Records (now defunct) with a restored recording directly taken of the radio tapes. Off course it is still live from Salzburg with that typical "boxy" acoustics and the noisy wooden stage. But the recording has presence and is low on distortion. The issue is paired with another very fine live performance of Fidelio from 1944 by Karl Böhm.

Strongly recommended.  :)

Q

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Fidelio
« Reply #79 on: December 14, 2016, 06:13:39 AM »
I am currently listening to all of the versions of Fidelio that I own and I have been posting same in the Listening Thread. However, I am going to post my humble thoughts in this thread also just for consistency sake…


von Karajan:




From the very outset we have a powerful performance of the Overture and this quality of performance follows throughout the entire work. All of the voices are  powerful and blend well and I particularly like Donath’s crystalline voice.


Klemperer:




This is a very fine, strong performance. My impression is that it is no less intense than the von Karajan but that the music breathes more. The weight of Ludwig’s mezzo voice lends an appropriate sense of the tragic to the role I feel. However the male voices carry the performance for me in this version.


Bernstein:




This is a wonderfully strong performance all the more so because all of the voices are individually superb and they blend homogeneously. I think that the spoken words in this performance somehow sound the most natural of those that I have heard so far.



Furtwangler:




This is a recording of variable quality,ranging from good to quite poor [especially the opening overture]. This is a pity as it is an overall excellent live performance from all concerned. The overture, however, is electric. Flagstad and Schwarzkopf both sing wonderfully and the male voices are masterful and sonorous. Furtwangler directs a taut, masterful and powerful performance. A wonderful performance if you can get past the sound quality.


I have three more to go and I will post those in a few days.
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