Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

This page lists all recordings of Fidelio, Op. 72, by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) on CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Jonas Kaufmann (Florestan), Adrianne Pieczonka (Leonore), Tomasz Konieczny (Pizarro), Hans-Peter König (Rocco), Olga Bezsmertna (Marzelline), Norbert Ernst (Jaquino), Paul Lorenger (Shadow Pizarro), Nadia Kichler (Shadow Leonore)

Wiener Philharmoniker & Konztertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Franz Welser-Möst

Staging: Claus Guth

Sets and costumes: Christian Schmidt

Claus Guth’s strikingly experimental new production drew fervent reactions at its premiere at the 2015 Salzburg Festival. On an elegantly spartan set - suggestive of Freud's ‘salon of the unconscious’ - the opera is reworked with amplified noises and ambient sounds substituting for the traditional dialogue and the inclusion of hand-signing doppelgangers who shadow some of the lead characters. “Jonas Kaufmann’s gorgeously sung Florestan”(Financial Times) and Leonora - “triumphantly sung by Adrianne Pieczonka” (The Guardian/Observer) - masterfully execute Guth’s conceptual exploration of the mind’s ability to self-impose its own prison.

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Live from the Zurich Opera House, 2004


Camilla Nylund (Leonore), Jonas Kaufmann (Florestan), László Polgár (Rocco), Christoph Strehl (Jaquino) Alfred Muff (Pizarro), Elizabeth Rae Magnuson (Marzelline), Günther Groissböck (Fernando), Boguslaw Bidzinski (First Prisoner) & Gabriel Bermúdez (Second Prisoner)

Orchestra and Chorus of The Zurich Opera House, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Jürgen Flimm (director)

Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio never ceases to fascinate audiences with its spellbinding story of true love. Staged by renowned opera director Jürgen Flimm this production is the outstanding result of the teamwork of the orchestra and chorus of the Zurich Opera House with a cast of magnifi cent singer-actors. Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund in the title role presents a wonderful portrayal of the opposing characters of the loving wife, Leonore, and her alter ego, the young man Fidelio. The internationally renowned tenor Jonas Kaufmann is her counterpart Florestan – the attractive singer plays a convincing suffering prisoner, brought back to life by marital love. László Polgár is the jailer Rocco, torn between greed and sympathy and Alfred Muff takes on the sinister Don Pizarro to complete the setting.

Under the musical direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, this production became a highly memorable event. The Austrian conductor is universally celebrated for the structural transparency of his interpretations, his intellectual penetration and his emotional understanding of both music and opera plot. He once called this opera “a hymn of praise to marital love”. Although the work has a long tradition of being interpreted in political terms portraying oppression and liberation, imprisonment and freedom, Harnoncourt is adamant that, for Beethoven, these topics were only a means to an end: “What he was concerned about is love. The real action is between Leonore and Florestan. Essentially, the work is about what can be achieved by true love and the fact that a loving wife is ready to do anything for her husband.”

Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

Audio Language: DE

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES, IT

DVD 9 / NTSC

Running Time: 128 mins

FSK: 0

“Jonas Kaufmann and Camilla Nylund fearlessly [pack] every phrase with compellingly truthful shades of meaning. Harnoncourt's Beethoven is famously raw and earthy: strong on struggle and on the composer's robust musical roots...The cameras' eyes direct us almost imperceptibly to crucial moments of musical and human relationship.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 *****

“Kaufmann sings his big aria with his customary combination of immaculate technical address, a blend of lyricism with a wide range of dynamics, including serious power when required.” Opera, August 2016

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Format: NTSC

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Arthaus Musik - 109223

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Sena Jurinac (Leonore), Jan Peerce (Florestan), Gustav Neidlinger (Pizarro), Dezsö Ernster (Rocco ), Maria Stader (Marzelline), Murray Dickie (Jaquino), Frederick Guthrie (Fernando)

Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper & Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Hans Knappertsbusch

After a spell of recording with Decca, the legendary Wagnerian conductor Hans Knappertsbusch recorded for Westminster, and among his best recordings for this label is this 1961 recording of Fidelio, boasting a cast of great singers at the Austrian and German opera houses, including the much-loved Sena Jurinac.

“this strikes me as one of the noblest recordings ever made. Knappertsbusch is deeply searching; the singers are very fine.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 *****

“Sena Jurinac gives a deeply affecting performance in the Prison Scene … Jan Peerce was an unexpected but good choice for the hero. His singing is strong and clear; both words and musical phrases are firmly moulded; ardour and the ring of conviction inform his singing.”” Gramophone Magazine

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4806561

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Beethoven: Fidelio

Beethoven: Fidelio


Beethoven:

Fidelio, Op. 72

recorded 1962

Jon Vickers (Florestan), Christa Ludwig (Leonore), Gottlob Frick (Rocco), Walter Berry (Pizarro), Ingeborg Hallstein (Marzelline), Gerhard Unger (Jaquino), Gerhard Unger (Fernando), Kurt Wehofschitz (Erster Gefangene), Raymond Wolansky (Zweiter Gefangene)

with Philharmonia Choir

Egmont Overture, Op. 84

Bonus Track. rec. 1958


Alto - ALC2020

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$10.50

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Jonas Kaufmann (Florestan), Nina Stemme (Leonore), Falk Struckmann (Pizarro), Christof Fischesser (Rocco), Rachel Harnisch (Marzelline), Christoph Strehl (Jaquino), Peter Mattei (Don Fernando), Juan Sebastian Acosta (Erste Gefangener), Levente Pall (Zweite Gefangener)

Lucerne Festival Orchestra & Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Claudio Abbado

Read Presto's complete review of this recording here.

Recorded live at the Lucerne Festival 2010 with the Festival Orchestra, this Fidelio is led by the legendary conductor Claudio Abbado − making this release a major operatic event.

The central tenor role of Florestan is known as one of the most demanding and difficult in all opera. For his first complete opera recording for Decca, Jonas Kaufmann, “the world’s greatest currently performing tenor” (London’s Daily and Sunday Express), delivers everything the role demands: fearless tone, peerless style, and heart-stopping dramatic intensity.

“Abbado’s command of the score and its structure is consummate, the atmosphere palpable through his perceptive application of orchestral colour. The detail he elicits from his hand-picked Lucerne Festival Orchestra is phenomenal, the blend of sonorities aglow, the clarity of texture refined with a masterly touch.” The Telegraph, 23rd June 2011 *****

“Abbado and his hand-picked Lucerne orchestra certainly do not disappoint here, as Beethoven’s epic score is delivered with drama and incandescence...Kaufmann’s thrilling Florestan emerges with a gut-wrenching cry from his dungeon. The set is worth sampling for him alone.” Sunday Times, 26th June 2011 ***

“Jonas Kaufmann’s first note alone is a good reason to buy this new recording of Beethoven’s stirring opera...The effect makes your jaw drop, your pulse pause, your hairs stand on end...Abbado conducts with magisterial but selfless understanding. In the overture alone (Beethoven’s punchy fourth version is used) you feel electricity and humanity in every jabbing rhythm and lyrically sculptured phrase.” The Times, 1st July 2011 ****

“this is a “modern” Fidelio in so far as it espouses lightly pointed rhythms, transparent textures and attention to detail – but it also captures the hallowed glow of Beethoven tradition...Interest for opera fans lies primarily in Jonas Kaufmann’s Florestan: his aria, beginning on a thread of sound, is as much a meditation as a cry from the depths.” Financial Times, 9th July 2011 ****

“Abbado's contribution is without doubt extraordinary – a loving if slow interpretation, noble in its anguish and elation...An exceptional Florestan – arguably the finest since Jon Vickers's – from Jonas Kaufmann wonderfully conveys his moral greatness as well as the extremity of his suffering.” The Guardian, 7th July 2011 ****

“Under Claudio Abbado’s assured direction, the Mahler Chamber and Lucerne Festival orchestras derive a fantastic amount of energy...[Stemme] manages to imbue her Fidelio/Leonore role with the requisite disguised anguish...High praise also must go to the spellbinding ensemble work...Jonas Kaufmann also impresses, most of all in his lachrymose opening to the second act...Due in part to the relative infrequency of recordings of Fidelio, this is one in particular to be cherished.” Daniel Ross, bbc.co.uk, 1st July 2011

“the instrumental performance is faultlessly sensitive to the drama it is illustrating. The singing is heroic, both from Nina Stemme as Leonore/Fidelio and Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan. Rachel Harnisch is a touching Marzelline, Falk Struckman a terrifying Don Pizarro.” The Independent on Sunday, 24th July 2011

“Abbado leads a viscerally charged performance that flies to the very heart of the matter...One of the many glories of this thrillingly articulated Fidelio is the playing of the basses and lower strings sharp-featured and black as the pit of Acheron...This is the best-conducted Fidelio since Furtwängler's; a joy to experience and a privilege to possess.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2011

“The real star of this performance...is the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, in whose hands the music seems to glow from within. The playing is thrilling throughout, with Claudio Abbado caressing every detail of Beethoven's score...The Arnold Schoenberg Choir rises to the occasion, too, producing hushed singing of great beauty in the Act 1 prisoners' chorus...Kaufmann is a commanding Florestan. His opening phrase as he lies in the depths of the dungeons is spine-tingling.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2011 ****

“Abbado brings elegance to everything he touches. In the event, Kaufmann is superb, Stemme sings with technical control and warmth of tone, and Abbado conducts with exemplary clarity.” Classic FM Magazine, October 2011 ***

“I could be in the minority when I state that I find this performance almost clinical...[Kaufmann] can do no wrong and, in fact, he does no wrong here, articulating his despair as well as his hope and desperation with great sincerity...Abbado is obviously going for a lean performance, and he succeeds; one hears things in both orchestra and vocal lines that are frequently smudged elsewhere.” International Record Review, September 2011

“this is a lean, chamber-sized account, every note precisely placed, but with enough punch for the drama to hit home...for superb technical playing, transparency of sound and with Stemme and Kaufmann in glorious voice, this is a Fidelio to treasure.” Opera Britannia, 6th October 2011

“From the opening flourishes of the overture, Abbado and his hand-picked festival orchestra arrest the attention...The ensemble-singing has the balance and synthesis which characterise the very best performances of Beethoven’s chamber-music...[Kaufmann's] first note alone is worth the price of the set...this is truly glorious, exhilarating music-making, and a superb document of one of the most thrilling live performances of 2010.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 20th June 2011

“My colleague Katherine would never forgive me if I didn't choose this live recording from the 2010 Lucerne Festival of Beethoven's only opera, conducted by Claudio Abbado and featuring the incomparable pairing of Nina Stemme as Leonore and Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan. His agonised cry of "Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!" after the slow orchestral build-up is astonishingly moving, and there's memorable support from Falk Struckmann as Pizarro and Christof Fischesser as Rocco.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical

Presto Disc of the Week

20th June 2011

Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

GGramophone Awards 2012

Best of Category - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - September 2011

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Decca - 4782551

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Birgit Nilsson (Leonore), Jon Vickers (Florestan), Hermann Uhde (Don Pizarro), Oskar Czerwenka (Rocco), Laurel Hurley (Marzellina), Charles Anthony (Jaquino) and Giorgio Tozzi (Don Fernando)

The Metropolitan Opera & Chorus, Karl Böhm

“the focus of interest falls primarily on the conducting...It's a white-knuckle ride of a performance in which he ratchets up the tension to the nth degree, reminding us that this grandest of humanitarian statements is essentially a thriller, and one of the finest ever written...The dialogue here is delivered with tremendous sincerity, at times shockingly intense.” The Guardian, 7th July 2011

“There is much to recommend this performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, recorded in clean mono sound. Karl Böhm was an immensely experienced conductor of this opera, and his account of the Leonore No. 3 Overture is thrilling. Jon Vickers, in one of his first Florestans, is in uneven voice, but committed. Birgit Nilsson makes an exciting Fidelio.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011 ****

Sony Met Matinées - 88697853092

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$10.25

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Recorded live at the Zurich Opera House in October 2008.


Roberto Saccà (Florestan), Melanie Diener (Leonore), Alfred Muff (Rocco), Sandra Trattnigg (Marzelline), Christoph Strehl (Jaquino), Lucio Gallo (Don Pizarro), Krešimir Stražanac (Don Fernando), Boguslaw Bidzinski (First Prisoner), Morgan Moody (Second Prisoner)

Zurich Opera Orchestra & Zurich Opera Chorus, Bernard Haitink (conductor) & Katharina Thalbach (director)

Translucence, transparency – warmth’ are the qualities identified by Bernard Haitink as necessary for an ideal sound performance of Beethoven’s only opera, and all are present in this fantastic recording of Katharina Thalbach’s new production for Opernhaus Zurich. Haitink conducts the Zurich Opera Orchestra in a magnificent performance in which Leonore Overture No. 3 provides an interlude between the two scenes of the second act, following a tradition started by Gustav Mahler. German soprano Melanie Diener, in the role of Leonore, leads a brilliant cast including Alfred Muff as Rocco, Roberto Saccà as Florestan, Sandra Trattnigg as Marzelline and Christoph Strehl as Jaquino. This High Definition recording with true surround sound marks the start of an exciting new collaboration between Opus Arte and Opernhaus Zurich.

Extra features:

Illustrated synopsis

Cast gallery

Running time 149 mins

Region code All regions

Video codec: AVC/MPEG-4 Disc size: BD50

Picture format 1080i High Definition / 16:9

Sound format 2.0 PCM & 5.0 DTS Master Audio

Menu language EN

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/ES

Blu-ray Disc

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Opus Arte - OABD7040D

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Jeannine Altmeyer (Leonore), Siegfried Jerusalem (Florestan), Peter Meven (Rocco), Siegmund Nimsgern (Don Pizarro), Carola Nossek (Marzelline), Rudiger Wohlers (Jaquino), Theo Adam (Don Fernando), Klaus Konig (Erster Gefangener), Frank-Peter Spathe (Zweiter Gefangener)

Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Men's Choir Rundfunkchor Berlin & Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur

CD includes a booklet with a three-language synopsis (English/French/German), full cast list and detailed track list.

“[Altmeyer's] exchanges with Jerusalem's stalwart Florestan are highly charged and the dialogue catches fire as never before...Siegmund Nimsgern's villain keeps temperatures boiling.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2010 ***

Sony - The Sony Opera House - 88697575592

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Sung in German


Christine Brewer (Leonore), John MacMaster (Florestan), Daniel Borowski (Don Fernando), Juha Uusitalo (Don Pizarro), Kristinn Sigmundsson (Rocco), Sally Matthews (Marzelline), Andrew Kennedy (Jaquino), Andrew Tortise (1st prisoner) & Darren Jeffrey (2nd prisoner)

London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

“Colin Davis may be almost 80 but he's at the height of his powers … the finest performance of Fidelio I have ever heard … … there was no weak link, nor weak moment, in a dazzling evening” ***** The Mail on Sunday (Concert Review)

A high density DSD recording, live at the Barbican Centre on 23-25 May 2005 Slimline double case and perfect bound 72-page booklet in slip case with notes in English, French and German. Libretto in German with English translation.

“Davis seems to view the work as an heroic love story instead of a grand pronouncement on freedom and oppression as so many others do. Hence the incredible lyricism of Davis’s account...this version sounds fresh and compelling and fully worthy to mount the steps to the temple of the few greats we have” Audiophile Audition

“…Colin Davis's conducting of the London Symphony Orchestra and the vocal forces is so impressive that it ranks with the greatest accounts I have ever heard of this work… Christine Brewer is a great Fidelio, her big voice under perfect control, electrifying at climaxes.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2007 ****

“there is an elemental energy to [Davis's] conducting that propels the drama inexorably forward...[Brewer] sings the notes more effortlessly, and with thrilling attack at the top of her range, than any other contemporary Leonore ...Vocally, the big surprise is the sensitively and heroically sung Florestan of the Canadian tenor John MacMaster” International Record Review

“[Brewer] sings here with great beauty. Mr MacMaster removes the role – rescues it, some might say – from Wagnerian thickness. The sound is clear, with the svelteness of a Verdi tenor but steadfast under pressure…Mr MacMaster and Mr Davis ride the music gloriously” New York Times

“Colin Davis is an interpreter inspired from start to finish …” Opera

“Davis's version is crisp and dramatic...Abscheulicher brings out all [Brewer's] masterly qualities to the full, thanks to her big, firm, creamy voice, perfectly controlled...The rest of the cast sings strongly too, with John MacMaster a clear, bold Florestan” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

“Critical superlatives rained on the concert performances of Fidelio last May; this recording made at the time shows they were not exaggerated...MacMaster brings an almost Vickers-like intensity and lyricism. It is at moments like these that Beethoven’s opera is out on its own” Sunday Telegraph

“[Brewer] is a glorious voice, lyrical yet capable of ascending thrillingly to climatic high Bs...The other principals are excellent too...Above all Davis's elemental conducting of his superb LSO makes this an outstanding bargain” Sunday Times

“playing of real bite and character that is caught with startling presenceby the recording...Christine Brewer's Leonore is quite exceptional...Mac Master's performance is immensely impressive too” The Guardian

“MacMaster's Florestan is every stave a match for Brewer's powerful, affecting Leonora, with the LSO chorus in especially fine voice as Davis mines the visionary depths of Beethoven's wondrous score” The Observer

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

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LSO Live - LSO0593

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Sena Jurinac (Leonore), Jon Vickers (Florestan), Gottlob Frick (Rocco), Hans Hotter (Pizarro), Elsie Morison (Marzelline), John Dobson (Jaquino), Forbes Robinson (Fernando), Joseph Ward (First Prisoner), Victor Godfrey (Second Prisoner)

Covent Garden Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Otto Klemperer

Recorded 1961, mono

“Here is the first night of Otto Klemperer's legendary 1961 Fidelio, from the Royal Opera House, to challenge his noted studio set from a year later.This confirms the Achilles' heel of Walter Legge, EMI's leading mogul at the time, in his unwillingness to record live occasions, probably because he liked to have every aspect of a recording under his control. In this case there is more to it than that. Klemperer wanted, in the studio, to retain his Covent Garden cast; Legge preferred to make changes with two exceptions (Jon Vickers and Gottlob Frick). On the evidence of this magnificent issue, Klemperer was right. Not only are the singers, by and large, better equipped for their roles, but given the electricity of the occasion the conductor's interpretation is more vital (often faster tempi) and even more eloquent. For his own staging, Klemperer decided to include far more dialogue than is usually heard so that we have as much a play with music as an opera. The singers speak and act with such feeling and immediacy, most particularly Jurinac, Hotter and Frick, as to justify the added text. Add to that the dedication on all sides to Klemperer, and you can imagine why this was such a special occasion.
Compared to Christa Ludwig on Klemperer's studio version, Sena Jurinac creates a more believable and vulnerable Leonore. Her heartfelt sympathy with the role is evident in every line she speaks and sings, most notably in key phrases in her duet with Rocco near the end of Act 1 and the melodrama in Act 2. Once past some first night nerves evident in 'Abscheulicher!' she proves an ideal Leonore. Vickers, even in these early days of his career, is inclined to sentimentalise his Florestan with scoops and lachrymose effects, but all is forgiven when he provides the heroic thrust and inner feeling which the part demands and which is so notably absent from the Florestan on the recent Rattle version. Frick's Rocco is, if possible, even more admirable than on the studio set, expressing the jailor's terrible dilemma in the kind of incisive, warm tones few other basses on disc match.
It is incomprehensible that Legge preferred as Pizarro the too-comfortable sounding Walter Berry to Hans Hotter. Hotter, usually known for his noble roles, is here the epitome of evil, a threatening force of nature, his voice and diction full of menace so that he can be forgiven one or two wobbles in his aria. The young lovers are personably sung and enacted by Elsie Morison and John Dobson, and another Royal Opera stalwart, Forbes Robinson, is a dignified Don Fernando.
There was a fuss at the time about Klemperer's inclusion of Leonore III, but he fully justifies it by his electrifying interpretation. He insisted on placing the wind in the middle of the orchestra spectrum, and the balance is improved throughout as a result. His reading overall has the stature and sense of the work's philosophical basis which will be familiar to those who know his discs of the symphonies.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“the quality of the splendid (1962) Kingsway Hall recording is very apparent, with the voices beautifully caught in relation to the orchestra, all within a glowing ambience. The result is a triumph to match the unique incandescence and spiritual strength of the performance, superbly cast” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

Penguin Guide

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Testament - SBT21328

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