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Beethoven's lone opera had a troubled gestation, as its no fewer than four overtures suggest. The finished product, while obviously a work of genius, exposes its patchwork qualities even in the best of productions. Luckily, the 1991 staging by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is so lucid and intelligent that the opera--a forceful plea for freedom, even in the most severely dictatorial regimes--comes across as both a forceful drama and a thought-provoking message.
Stage director Adolf Dresen, together with set designer Margit Bardy and lighting designer Erich Falk, presents the characters (which on paper have a tendency to remain types) as fully human, their interactions made understandable and plausible not only by Beethoven's humanizing music but also the realistic period settings. Video director Derek Bailey has succeeded admirably at getting this across for the home viewer as well. Musically, this Fidelio is a whirlwind, with conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leading the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus in an energetic but never-too-fast performance (by the way, they perform the fourth overture); and the singers are topnotch vocally and dramatically. Soprano Gabriela Benacková makes an arresting, emotionally complex Leonore, and Josef Protschka as her imprisoned husband, Florestan, brings down the house with his impassioned aria at the beginning of Act II. --Kevin Filipski --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Good, not great. For one thing, the dialogue is kinky. How could any producer of "Fidelio" omit that wonderful exchange: when Florestan tells his wife how much she's done... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2001
This is my seventh or eighth opera on DVD (I have over 250 operas on CD)and since I had never heard of the principal singers before, I was rather anxious when I bought it. Read morePublished on June 16 2001 by ric brown