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Opera in two acts

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven · Libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner after the amendments by Georg Friedrich Treitschke after Jean-Nicolas Bouilly's libretto "Léonore, ou L'Amour conjugal"
In German with German surtitles

Saturday, 20. February 2016
07:00 pm – 09:50 pm
Nationaltheater

Duration est. 2 hours 50 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. Akt and 2. AKt (est. 08:20 pm - 08:50 pm )

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Cast

Musikalische Leitung
Zubin Mehta
Inszenierung
Calixto Bieito
Bühne
Rebecca Ringst
Kostüme
Ingo Krügler
Licht
Reinhard Traub
Choreographische Mitarbeit
Heidi Aemisegger
Dramaturgie
Andrea Schönhofer
Chor
Sören Eckhoff

Don Fernando
Tareq Nazmi
Don Pizarro
Tomasz Konieczny
Florestan
Peter Seiffert
Leonore
Anja Kampe
Rocco
Franz-Josef Selig
Marzelline
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Jaquino
Dean Power
1. Gefangener
Joshua Owen Mills
2. Gefangener
Igor Tsarkov
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
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Dressed as a man and calling herself “Fidelio”, Leonore surreptitiously gains the confidence of the jailer Rocco and his daughter Marzelline, thus gaining access to the high security tract where her husband Florestan has been despotically incarcerated by Don Pizarro. Florestan is in mortal danger, but this does not intimidate his wife, who is determined to liberate him. Finally, however, the two of them can only be rescued by an emissary from the monarch. At the end, a Utopia in the form of a final chorus sets the stage aglow, not only as a plea for freedom and justice, but also concurrently as a condemnation of the anxieties and restrictions of human existence.

Beethoven had several plans for operatic compositions, but he only managed to realize one of these projects: in a decades-long process of creativity and rewriting, inspired by a French work entitled Léonore or Marital Loyalty by composer Pierre Gaveaux and librettist Jean Nicolas Bouilly, which was in turn based on a real event from the epoch of the French Revolution, Beethoven crafted his only opera, Fidelio – a musical cross-over between a light opera and a grandiose theatrical symphony.

 

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Florestan has disappeared. Leonore, his wife, is searching for him. She wants to rescue him. Pizarro, his enemy, has been persecuting him. He wants to kill Florestan.

Act One

Leonore suspects that her husband, Florestan, is being held prisoner by Pizarro in his fortress.

She alters her identity and, calling herself Fidelio, gets a job as an assistant to Rocco, who is the chief jailer in Pizarro’s prison.

Marzelline, Rocco’s daughter, has fallen in love with Fidelio. Jaquino, who also works for Rocco, is in love with Marzelline, but she now finds his affection a nuisance and would like to be rid of him. Rocco is convinced that money, not only love, is necessary in order to find happiness in life. He sides with his daughter and encourages her in her hopes for a new romance. Marzelline already imagines the fulfillment of her dream: she will be happily married to Fidelio and spend her life at his side. Having won the confidence of father and daughter, Leonore also hopes that she is getting closer to her goal, namely to find Florestan. Jaquino’s hopes are dashed, however, and his world falls apart.

Pizarro’s superior, Fernando, plans to inspect the prison as he has heard that people are being held there illegally. Pizarro gets himself into the mood for his revenge: Florestan must be killed before Fernando arrives and Rocco is given instructions to carry out the task – for which he will, of course, be generously rewarded. Rocco refuses to murder Florestan but, mindful of his duty, he agrees to assist Pizarro when the latter orders him to help him to carry out the murder himself.

Leonore, who has overheard the conversation between Pizarro and Rocco, is now determined to do whatever is necessary to rescue her husband. She allows the prisoners to go out into the prison yard for air but cannot find Florestan among them when she scans their desperate faces, so she persuades Rocco to allow her to accompany him down into the dungeons, where she suspects Florestan is being held.

Pizarro angrily gives orders for the prisoners to be returned to their cells. Rocco steps in front of Marzelline and Leonore to protect them. Mindful of the plot to get rid of Florestan, Pizarro does not punish Rocco for disobeying orders.

Act Two

Florestan bemoans his fate. Just as if he were hallucinating, he has a vision of Leonore as an angel coming to his rescue.

Rocco and Fidelio make their way down to Florestan’s dungeon and begin with the preparations for his murder. Horrified and yet filled with hope at the same time, Leonore recognizes her husband. Pizarro appears to kill Florestan. Fidelio succeeds in preventing the murder at the last moment by stepping between the prisoner and Pizarro and revealing herself as Florestan’s wife, just as a trumpet call rings out to announce the arrival of Fernando.

Justice has been established and there is rejoicing. Fernando, who had believed that his friend Florestan was dead, sets him and all the other prisoners free and Pizarro is punished.

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Biographies

Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 and grew up in a musical family in his native Bombay. After first studying medicine for two semesters he concentrated on music in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class at the Vienna academy.

Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner at the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-twenties he had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and retains close ties with both.

Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted nearly two thousand concert performances with this extraordinary ensemble on tours spanning five continents. In 1978 he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history and, since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale in Florence.

Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1964. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Montreal, Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival.

Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" from the Vienna Philharmonic as well as having been made, in 2001, an honorary member of the orchestra. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations by Lea Rabin. In April 2001 President Chirac created him "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur". In January 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed the title of "Honorary Conductor" on Zubin Mehta.

Zubin Mehta has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Quite apart from his commitments and responsibilities for the musical leadership of new productions, repertory performances and concerts associated with this position, he has also led the State Orchestra on two major European tours and the whole opera company on tours to Japan.

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