Ludwig van Beethoven – Fidelio, Op.72 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle (2003/2014) [HDTracks 24-44.1]

Ludwig van Beethoven – Fidelio, Op.72 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle (2003/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1kHz | Time – 1:50:11 minutes | 0,98 GB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks |  © Warner Classics

Fidelio may seem like an isolated phenomenon in a career overwhelmingly dominated by instrumental music. But Beethoven’s letters reveal that from his early years in Vienna he was anxious to try his hand at opera. In 1803 he got as far as composing several numbers for a grand opera, Vestas Feuer, to a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, Mozart’s collaborator on Die Zauberflöte. But the project foundered on the incongruity between the ancient Roman setting and what Beethoven called “language and verses that could only have come out of the mouths of our Viennese apple-women.” He continued to cast around for suitable librettos until near the end of his life, even making sketches for operas on Macbeth – a tantalising prospect – and Bacchus.

Fidelio finally saw the stage on 20 November 1805. It lasted only three performances, partly because most of Beethoven’s supporters had fled Vienna as Napoleon’s troops advanced (many in the audience were in fact French officers), partly because the opera was deemed too long and undramatic. Critics drew unflattering comparisons with the works of Mozart and of Cherubini – a favourite composer in Vienna since his rescue opera Lodoïska was performed there in 1802. One common complaint was that the music, while not without its beauties, was repetitious, especially in its treatment of words. Urged on by his friends, Beethoven almost immediately set about revising and tightening the score.

Beethoven had almost certainly given up hope of seeing Fidelio performed again when, early in 1814, he was asked permission by three singers – among them Anna Milder, by now famous for her portrayals of Gluck and Cherubini heroines – to revive it for a benefit concert at Vienna’s Kärntnertor Theatre. He agreed, and immediately made plans to “rebuild the desolate ruins of an old castle”, as he picturesquely put it. With the help of the poet Georg Friedrich Treitschke he made further cuts, alterations and reorderings (the opera now opened not with Marzelline’s aria but with the duet for her and Jaquino), simplified some of the vocal writing and totally recast both finales. The 1814 Fidelio is a fundamentally different opera from the 1805 original. With extensive cuts (including a trio and a duet) in the first act, there is now much less emphasis on Marzelline and her world of petit bourgeois domesticity.

From this point onwards Beethoven and Treitschke diluted the dramatic tension of the original opera. In the 1805/6 versions Florestan and Leonore had sung their ecstatic duet, No.15, while still uncertain of their fate. In 1814 the happy ending is already assured and an extra frisson lost. The human element is now subordinate to the opera’s moral message; and the prisoners, released from darkness into daylight, become archetypes of oppressed humanity, as they never were in 1805. Fidelio in its final form is above all a hymn to abstract, universal ideals: freedom, courage in the face of tyranny, heroic determination, perfect womanhood and the brotherhood of man.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Fidelio, Op.72
1 Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72: Overture 6:49

Act 1
2 “Jetzt, Schatzchen, jetzt sind wir allein” (Jaquino, Marzelline) 4:41
3 “Armer Jacquino” (Marzelline) 0:10
4 “O war’ ich schon mit dir vereint” (Marzelline) 3:54
5 “Marzelline, ist Fidelio noch nicht zuruckgekmmomen?!” (Rocco, Marzelline, Leonore) 0:34
6 “Mir ist so wunderbar” (Marzelline, Leonore, Rocco, Jaquino) 3:35
7 “Hore, Fidelio” (Rocco) 0:12
8 “Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben” (Rocco) 2:51
9 “Ihr konnt das leicht sagen, Meister Rocco” (Leonore, Rocco, Marzelline) 0:57
10 “Gut, Sohnchen, gut” (Rocco, Leonore, Marzelline) 3:48
11 “Nur auf der Hut, dann geht es gut” (Rocco, Leonore, Marzelline) 2:14
12 March 1:46
13 “Wo sind die Depeschen?” (Pizarro, Rocco) 0:41
14 “Ha! Welch ein Augenblick!” (Pizarro/Chorus) 3:06
15 “Hauptmann, Besteigen Sie mit einem Trompeter sogleich den Turm” (Pizarro, Rocco) 0:18
16 “Jetzt, Alter, jetzt has es Eile!” (Pizaro, Rocco) 5:18
17 “Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?” (Leonore) 2:02
18 “Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzen Stern” (Leonore) 5:24
19 “Meister Rocco, ihr verspracht so oft” (Leonore, Rocco, Marzelline) 0:17
20 “O, welche Lust!” (Chorus, zwei Gefangene) 6:44
21 “Nun sprecht, wie ging’s?” (Leonore, Rocco) 4:56
22 “Ach! Vater, eilt!” (Marzelline, Rocco, Jaquino, Leonore, Pizarro) 2:12
23 “Leb’ wohl, du warmes Sonnenlicht” (Chorus, Marzelline, Leonore, Jaquino, Pizzaro, Rocco) 3:19

Act 2
24 “Gott! Welch’ Dunkel hier!” (Florestan) 5:11
25 “In des Lebens Fruhlingstagen” (Florestan) 4:36
26 “Wie kalt ist es hier!” (Leonore, Rocco) 1:41
27 “Nur hurtig fort, nur frisch gegraben” (Rocco, Leonore) 3:57
28 “Er erwacht!” (Leonore, Rocco, Florestan) 0:49
29 “Euch werde Lohn in bessern Welten” (Florestan, Rocco, Leonore) 6:03
30 “Alles ist bereit” (Rocco, Leonore, Florestan, Pizarro) 0:20
31 “Er sterbe!” (Pizzarro, Florestan, Leonore, Rocco) 3:27
32 “Es schlagt der Rache Stunde!” (Leonore, Florestan, Pizarro, Rocco) 1:08
33 “O namenlose Freude!” (Leonore, Florestan) 3:33
34 “Heil sei dem Tag” (Chorus) 1:51
35 “Des besten Konigs Wink und Wille” (Don Fernando, Chorus, Rocco, Pizzaro, Leonore, Marzelline) 4:37
36 “O Gott! welch’ ein Augenblick!” (Leonore, Florestan, Don Fernando, Marzelline, Rocco, Chorus) 2:58
37 “Wer ein holdes Weib errungen” (Chours, Florestan, Leonore, Marzelline, Jaquino, Fernando, Rocco) 3:57

Angela Denoke – Soprano
Jon Villars – Tenor
Alan Held – Bass-Baritone
Laszlo Polgár – Bass
Thomas Quasthoff – Bass-Baritone
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Erwin Ortner – Chorus Master
Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle – Conductor