Beethoven’s Fidelio

Fidelio

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.

New York Philharmonic from Vail

Sun is setting as the orchestra peforms encore, 8pm, 7/28/11. Photo by Chris Lee.

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:
Morning Mood
Solvejg’s Song
Åse’s Death
Anitra’s Dance
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

Music Makes a City with Teddy Abrams

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!

John Rutter

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John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and received his first musical education as a chorister at Highgate School. He went on to study music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first published compositions and conducted his first recording while still a student. His compositional career spans both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television, and works for such groups as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King’s Singers.

From 1975 to 1979 he was Director of Music at Clare College, whose choir he directed in a number of broadcasts and recordings. After giving up the Clare post to allow more time for composition, he formed the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir primarily dedicated to recording, and he now divides his time between composition and conducting.

John Rutter’s orchestra music will be featured on this week’s An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.

Lunchtime Classics: Kentucky Opera Presents Fidelio

Fidelio set

Kentucky Opera opens their 2014-2015 season with Beethoven’s Fidelio, and you can get an up-close preview on Lunchtime Classics, September 3rd at noon. Call (502) 814-6565 to reserve a lunch from City Cafe and a front row seat. Space will fill up quickly!

Until then, check out this cover for an LP set of Fidelio conducted by Zubin Mehta
beethoven fidelio cool font