As Kentucky Opera prepares its production of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sole opera Fidelio, let’s look back at the work’s popularity through the years.
When Beethoven’s Fidelio premiered on November 20, 1805, the house was half full. The performance was deemed a failure. The production was repeated twice and then dropped. The work returned to the stage in March of the following year after Beethoven make some cuts and other changes. It failed again. Fidelio was tried once again the next season, but attracted only the cognoscenti of the buying public. Angry with his creation, Beethoven withdrew the work and completely revised it in 1814.
Thirteen years later, Beethoven presented the manuscript to his close friend and biographer, Anton Schindler. Near death, Beethoven reportedly said, “Of all my children, this is the one that cost me the worst birth-pangs and brought me the most sorrow; and for that reason it is the one most dear to me.”
Fidelio is much loved in today’s opera world and holds an honored place in the repertoire. It’s also well represented on Compact Disc recordings. However, since the mid 20th century the work is revived only sporadically due its lack of box office success. Perhaps due to its inconsistent style: the first scene is largely Singspiel, or light opera. Or it could be the naivete of the plot which contrasts with the fiery emotional pull of the music.
Enjoy this moment when Fidelio allows the prisoners to experience the sunlight.
Composer Richard Arnell was born in London in 1917 during a Zeppelin raid during the Great War. His career spanned two continents including the United States. He wrote many works especially for the prolific conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Punch and the Child is based on the classic hand-puppet show Punch and Judy. The humour is violent and children love it. The ballet tells of a sad Victorian child at an English seaside resort who is fascinated by the puppet show. When a sudden storm appears, she takes shelter inside the puppeteer’s booth, where a living Punch doll suddenly appears.
Choreographer Serge Diaghilev visited London several times. On his second visit, he commissioned music from Lord Berners called The Triumph of Neptune. The story follows a sailor and a journalist who look through a magic telescope and see Fairyland. On their voyage there, they are shipwrecked by Neptune but then saved by Britannia.
Frederick Delius wrote two works called Dance Rhapsody. Number one was written in 1906, number 2 in 1916. The second rhapsody is shorter in length from the first and requires fewer players from the orchestra (30 as opposed to 100 of the first).
This music will be featured on this week’s An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.
Richard Arnell – Punch and the Child, Op. 49
Lord Berners – The Triumph of Neptune Suite
Frederick Delius – Dance Rhapsody No. 2
Enjoy a bit of a traditional Punch and Judy performance:
Bourbon Baroque is presenting Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, featuring flutist Leela Breithaupt, on September 14th and 15th at Old 502 Winery. Bach scholar, Dean Karns, will be on hand to discuss the music of Bach. Austin Clark and Karns stopped by Classical 90.5 with this preview
For 12 years, the New York Philharmonic has been traveling to Vail, Colorado to present Bravo! Vail. For the next three Saturdays at 9pm, on The New York Philharmonic This Week! with Alec Baldwin, we’ll give you a seat on the grass for highlights from the most recent festival, featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman, oboist Liang Wang and clarinetist Marc Nuccio, with conductors Alan Gilbert and Bramwell Tovey.
Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival (Program 1)
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Nielsen: Helios Overture
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
Grieg: Selections from Peer Gynt:
In the Hall of the Mountain King
Liszt: Les Préludes
Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival (Program 2)
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Liang Wang, oboe
Strauss: Don Juan
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
Rouse: Oboe Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet
Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival (Program 3)
Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Marc Nuccio, clarinet
Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Gershwin arr. Rose: Strike Up the Band
Copland: Clarinet Concerto
Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite
The Music Makes a City team is starting to release webisodes updating their original film’s story, and highlighting new Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams. Check it out and watch their Youtube channel for more!