We delve into Frederic Wake-Walker's new production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.
We delve into Frederic Wake-Walker’s striking new production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.
Frederic Wake-Walker’s new production of Fidelio, is a musical shout of fury and an impassioned cry of hope – still as powerful a political statement as it was during the French occupation of Austria. It’s also a love story, celebrating not the thrill of first love, but the enduring, quiet devotion of marriage in music of transcendent beauty. Beethoven’s only opera is a masterpiece of moral courage, humanity and musical invention.
A brief introduction
Leonore’s husband Florestan has been arrested and imprisoned by his villainous rival Don Pizzaro, for attempting to expose the latter’s corruption. Determined to rescue him, Leonore disguises herself as a boy, Fidelio, and takes a job at the prison where he is being held. An impassioned musical cry for freedom and justice, Fidelio remains a powerful public statement today.
Fidelio was a hard won creation, composed and re-composed for over a decade. Beethoven said of his only opera ‘It is the work that has caused me the worst birth pangs, the one that has brought me the most sorrow, and for that reason it is the one most dear to me.’
Beethoven stepped onto a stage filled with fashionable French tragedies and Italian comedies an offered his audience something else: a musical manifesto for democracy and freedom. Synonymous with political protest, Fidelio remains a powerful public statement today.
Why not to miss this production
Talented young British director Frederic Wake-Walker, who previously directed Mozart’s La finta giardiniera for Glyndebourne (‘A deliciously light-hearted evening’, ‘Emerges with irresistible charm’), returns will a bold, contemporary re-imagining of this classic work. Elaborate projections and sets will use the full scope of the stage to bring this story about political tyranny and personal resistance into the 21st century.
A great moment to look out for
The Act I Prisoners’ Chorus ‘O welche lust’ is probably the most famous musical moment in Fidelio – an exquisite, delicate release of hope and delight in the bleakest and darkest of contexts.
Fidelio and his fellow prisoners have received rare permission to walk in the garden. They find joy in nature and trust in God to free them from imprisonment. ‘It is a very powerful and ardent hymn to humanity, it covers life and liberty and hope, even in the shadow of death and tyranny and oppression’ says Glyndebourne’s Chorus Master Aidan Oliver. Watch the video for Aidan’s full explanation of what makes the piece so powerful.
Cast and creative team
Ben Glassberg, music director of the Glyndebourne Tour, conducts an exciting young cast, led by rising German soprano Dorothea Herbert (‘A soprano with strikingly beautiful timbre’, ‘An explosive yet subtle voice’) as Leonore. Glyndebourne favourite Carrie-Ann Williams, a feisty Giannetta in 2019’s L’elisir d’amore, returns as Marzelline, with Gavan Ring as her long-suffering lover Jaquino.
André and Rosalie Hoffmann with a Syndicate and Circle of individuals
Bring this brand new production, originally scheduled for the cancelled Festival 2020, to life.
Main image: Underworld (An Escape) © Tom Hammick. All rights reserved, DACS 2021