The Salzburg Festival presents Ludwig van Beethoven’s one and only opera, his masterpiece: Fidelio, in a new production staged by Claus Guth, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst and starring Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan.
The casting is remarkable in this beautiful new production by the Salzburg Festival. Adrianne Pieczonka embodies the faithful Leonore and Jonas Kaufmann, more tragic than ever, lends his voice to Florestan. The Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor join them in this sure-to-be remarkable performance.
Fidelio is a beautiful story about freedom, love and commitment, based on Jean-Nicolas Bouilly’s Leonore, or The Triumph of Married Love. The story takes its inspiration from a true revolutionary French anecdote: a woman, disguised as a prison guard, rescues her husband from death in a political prison. Deeply touched by this beautiful story, Beethoven wrote his first and only opera: Fidelio.
Beethoven was already writing the piece Vesta’s fire when he started composing Fidelio. Indeed, Fidelio fitted his aesthetic and political outlook more. He started to write the piece in 1803. After the premiere’s failure in 1805, he had Stephan von Breuning rewrite the original piece. He finally finished it in 1814.
Leonore, dressed as a man, gets hired as a jailer’s helper in the prison where her husband, Florestan, is unjustly being held. Under the name of Fidelio, she defies the authority of the cruel governor of the prison, Don Pizzaro, who is responsible for Florestan’s secret imprisonment.
When Pizzaro decides to kill his victim, who is a witness of his abuses of power, Leonore-Fidelio rescues her husband and reveals her true identity. She finally defeats Pizzaro as her true self. Thanks to her, all the prisoners are released. They sing an ode to life as the opera finishes. Fidelio’s themes, freedom and justice, are very typical of Beethoven, who (perhaps inspired by the French Revolution of 1789) later wrote the “Ode to Joy,” dedicated to his Ninth Symphony.