Magda László (Leonore), Richard Holm (Florestan), Georg Wieter (Rocco), Heinz Rehfuss (Pizarro), Sonja Schöner (Marzelline), Fritz Berger (Jaquino), Alfred Pöll (Fernando), Kurt Equiluz (First Prisoner), Leo Heppe (Second Prisoner)
Actors: Leonore (Claude Nollier), Pizarro (Hans Schiel), Fernando (Erwin Gross), First Prisoner (Michael Tollering), Second Prisoner (Harry Payer)
Arrangement, text version and script by Walter Felsenstein and Hanns Eisler.
Opera Feature Film (black-and-white), 1956
Artistic Supervisor and Direction Walter Felsenstein
Director of Photography Nicolaus Hayer
Sceneries and Costumes Rochus Gliese, Leo Metzenbauer
Walter Felsenstein (1901–1975), founder and general director of the Komische Oper in Berlin, was one of the twentieth century’s greatest creative theatre directors, who played a hugely important role in the revival of opera as a theatrical art form. A brilliant artist who directed over 190 productions during the course of his career, he was equally committed to the works, their creators, the ensemble and the audience.
When Walter Felsenstein is offered to shoot an adaptation of the story about Fidelio/Leonore in the early fifties, he accepts. Together with Hanns Eisler, he develops a whole new version of the story by changing, cutting out and rearranging parts of the text. The overture is incorporated into the filmic adaptation and tells the prelude of the story. In doing this, Felsenstein uses the medium in a whole new way. The music is not only there to accompany the images; Fidelio is not meant to be an operatic film but a musical film. However, the project is weighed down with diffi culties from the very beginning, as it is temporarily uncertain as to how the project should be financed. Although the finished film provokes some fierce political controversy, it is a success among the public. Looking back sixteen years later, Felsenstein commented: “It is the only music film I have ever made – even though it had its faults. The other films were basically stage performances adapted and arranged for the cinema. They were intended to document Felsenstein productions at the Komische Oper and were modified to make them suitable for filming, but were still based on theatrical productions. My only real music film was Fidelio.”
“Arthaus’s scholarly and imposing ‘Walter Felsenstein Edition’ offers a fascinating glimpse of an important moment in operatic history now vanished.” The New York Times
Sound Format: PCM Stereo
DVD Format: DVD 9, NTSC
Picture Format: 4:3
Running Time: 84 mins
Menu Language: GB, DE, FR, ES
Subtitle Languages: GB, DE, FR, ES
Region Code: 0
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