Fidelio is Beethoven’s only opera and he wrote it under considerable difficulties. In a letter he mentioned that this opera will surely win him a “martyr crown”.
Beethoven has been such a teacher on this journey. From the windows of my classroom at school I could see the Beethoven monument. Later in life it was his music that prompted me to go deeper.
Fidelio recounts a wonderful story about freedom. Leonore, disguised as the prisoner guard Fidelio, rescues her husband from death in political prison. Fidelio is also called the “liberty opera”. Freedom, personal dignity and courage are it’s main theme. Influenced by the French revolution, but also by his own personal destiny facing complete deafness, Fidelio can be seen as a metaphor for transcendence by surrender.
Watch the scene when Leonore/Fidelio is freeing the prisoners and they come out into the bright sun shine.
L v Beethoven : The prisoner chorus (What a joy).
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Metropolitan Opera, 2003
Beethoven wrote 4 overtures, of which the 3rd is considered to be the greatest. It is usually performed between the the two scenes of the second act, as it’s music is intensely dramatic.