This video of Beethoven’s Fidelio was taped over four nights at the end of October, 2006 at the then year-old Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. The production inaugurated the opera house’s first official season, and a cast of international opera stars was called upon to take part under Zubin Mehta’s leadership in an evocative production by Pierluigi Pier’Alli… Mattila/Levine (DG)
“The live recording of the Zurich Opera of the spring of 2004 is an extraordinary document retracing the exceptional work of the team involved together, of a visionary conductor (Nikolaus Harnoncourt) and a discrete but convincing staging (Jürgen Flimm). To be heard in the title role is the excellent Camilla Nylund beside Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan, at the best of his form.”(BMG)
Best of 2007 Classical CDs ‘This thrilling performance was given in the Barbican last May when Sir Colin excelled himself in the power & nobility of his interpretation, with the LSO in terrific form, & the American soprano Christine Brewer sang with gleaming white-hot tone as Leonore. The final paean of joy at liberation is overwhelming. 1st-class recording quality.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in 1970, German television took Fidelio into the studio and filmed the Deutsche Oper Berlin's production of the composer's only opera. Karl Böhm, well-known as a master conductor of this opera, leads an astonishing performance which emphasizes orchestral clarity and emotional depth. The conductor leads a strong cast headed by the glorious Gwyneth Jones and powerful James King in the starring roles. First time on DVD! "Gwyneth Jones sang a passionate Leonore…James King was a Florestan on the summit of his vocal expression." (Berliner Morgenpost)
“A performance simply crackling with excitement from the Wiener Staatsoper in 1978, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and featuring sublime performances from Gundula Janowitz as Leonore, René Kollo as Florestan, and Lucia Popp as Marzelline. The celebrated quartet, Mir ist so wunderbar, is nothing short of exquisite.” (James Longstaffe, Presto Classical)
The German stage director Jürgen Flimm – and his design team of Robert Israel and Florence von Gerkan – have set the opera in the second half of the 20th century and have costumed the action decidedly on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean. Such an approach follows the line of Flimm’s other contemporary opera successes – for example his current Bayreuth Ring (premiered in 2000) or his 2001 Otello at the Berlin Staatsoper. Modernising the period does not become updating for its own sake. Rather, the actions and behaviour of the characters cunningly align contemporary manners with the existing prescriptions of a “period” libretto.
Translucence, transparency – warmth' are the qualities identified by Bernard Haitink as necessary for an ideal sound performance of Beethoven's only opera, and all are present in this fantastic recording of Katharina Thalbach's new production for Opernhaus Zurich. Haitink conducts the Zurich Opera Orchestra in a magnificent performance in which Leonore Overture No. 3 provides an interlude between the two scenes of the second act, following a tradition started by Gustav Mahler.
The Deutsche Oper in Berlin had hardly opened on 24th September 1961 before it started preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary. How was that possible? Had it entered into some sort of time warp? That might indeed have been possible for a theatre that in the past had devoted itself to Richard Wagner’s works. But there was a simpler explanation: the Deutsche Oper Berlin had, in fact, originally opened on 7 November 1912 under the title of Deutsches Opernhaus. Thus it was Beethoven’s Fidelio that featured at the opening of the Deutsches Opernhaus in 1912 – and it was also chosen for the anniversary concert on 7th November 1962 that is documented in this DVD…
The close-ups and intimate settings that are part of the staging make visual sense and support the music well. Based on the staging used at the Hamburg Opera, this recording from 1968 is of more than historic interest. Rather, the unique perspective from this television production conveys the appropriate immediacy to the work that sometimes escapes live performances on stage. The ensemble "Mir ist so wunderbar" becomes here an aside for the principals who are able to step out of the action momentarily to reflect on the situation, and their carefully placement on stage anticipates their roles in the drama as it resumes, notably with Leonore/Fidelio in the forefront, and Rocco in the center… James L. Zychowicz