This is a real surprise and a very good
introduction to the opera. Fidelio
is Beethovenís only opera and was
originally written in 1805 as Leonora;
the revised opera was completed in 1814.
Fidelio is wonderfully visual
and I well recall being very moved by
the Prisonersí chorus as a teenager.
There are, of course,
many famous recordings from Toscanini
through Klemperer to Barenboim and Rattle
today. For those to whom this opera
is unfamiliar this performance of all
the key parts is splendid. There are
informative notes and access to the
libretto over the internet. www.naxos.com
Michael Halasz has
already given an excellent Zauberflöte
and this Fidelio is even better.
An emphatic overture is followed by
the appearance of Leonore - Inga Nielsen
- who disguises herself as Fidelio to
rescue her lover Florestan from prison.
Nielsen is first rate. The quartet "Mir
ist so wunderbar" is wonderful
and is developed from Mozartís "soave
il vento". I love Furtwänglerís
and Klempererís versions. This one is
in magnificent sound under sympathetic
conducting. These five minutes are worth
the price alone. This is very much a
theatrical performance and never so
dramatic as in Pizarroís aria. Alan
Titus (baritone) is admirable in that
role and sounds splendidly conspiratorial.
The emotion is clear in Leonoreís aria
and the "Prisonerís chorus"
is also very well executed. There is
very good singing throughout which is
not always a feature of Naxosís operas.
All the gems from the
main recording - which I have not heard
- are here and I should add that the
complete Fidelio lasts only just
over two hours. There are clear notes
as to the history of the opera and a
detailed synopsis giving access points;
ideal for a new listener.
This is a splendid
highlights package drawn from the complete
recording of a fine performance. It
should tempt listeners to try the full
work and to see a performance.
David R Dunsmore
Explained: An introduction to Fidelio
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN