Ludwig van Beethoven, BEETHOVEN: Fidelio

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A Beethoven, as well as an operatic, essential!

Beethoven's sole opera is one of the greats, a study in matrimonial loyalty and courage that, as a theme, never stales. Florestan, wrongly imprisoned by his enemy Don Pizzarro, is being starved to death but, unbeknownst to anyone, his wife Leonore, disguised as a man, has secured a job in the prison and finally tends to him and, more importantly, saves him. There are some wonderfully rewarding parts for the tight core of singers involved and this splendid Naxos recording, conducted with authority by Michael Halász, is very impressively cast. Inga Nielsen is a wonderfully feminine yet determined Leonore and Gösta Winbergh (as Florestan, who doesn't appear until Act 2) offers a suitably anguished account. There are some magnificent set-pieces (the Act 1 quartet and the Prisoners'Chorus) that reveal that Beethoven was an acute dramatist. This is a Beethoven, as well as an operatic, essential!