Fidelio, by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), is sometimes referred to as
the composer’s solitary dream. Even though he intensely wished to create an
opera, and having considered more than 50 subjects, Beethoven ultimately merely
wrote just a single piece in the genre. The libretto to Fidelio was furnished to
the composer by his friend Joseph Sonnleithner (1765–1835), who translated
into German and adapted the French text Leonora ou l’amour conjugal, penned by
Jean-Nicolas Bouilly (1763–1842). The story of the political prisoner
Florestan and his brave wife Leonore, an apotheosis of marital live and
fidelity, as well as the idea of justice and pan-human brotherhood, presently
impressed Beethoven. Nonetheless, setting a profound ethical message not for
symphony or chamber rendition but for a theatre stage, with which he had no
previous experience, proved to be a truly formidable task. The premieres of the
first, three-act, version in 1805 and the shortened, two-act, version two years
later (both at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna) were flops, with only the
opera’s third version, first performed on 23 May 1814 at the Theater am
Kärntnertor, having met with triumph. In 1814, Fidelio was first staged in
Bohemia, conducted by the then Kapellmeister of the Estates Theatre, Carl Maria
von Weber. Beethoven’s work was most recently presented in Prague in 1993, at
the State Opera, under the title Leonore, so as to make it clear it was the
original version. The new production, which will be conducted by Andreas
Sebastian Weiser, the music director of the State Opera, and staged by the
renowned Bulgarian-German director Vera Nemirova, will be an adaptation of the
opera’s final, 1814, version.
The opera is sung in German. Czech and English surtitles.
One interval after Act I.
Theatre is a cultural institutution. Respect the common principles of appropriate behaviour and clothing.