The Michigan Opera Theatre production of Fidelio was a one-of-a kind masterpiece when it appeared on the stage of the magnificent Detroit Opera House.
The music was divine, with some of the most difficult vocals written performed beautifully by Christine Goerke as Leonore on the night I attended, Saturday, April 20. Ileana Montalbetti also performed the demanding roll. John Mac Master performed Florestan and Carsten Wittmoser was Count Pizzarro. Click here for the full cast.
His only opera, Beethoven is said to have remarked the work took him an entire creative lifetime. The work mixes two moods, one the playful joy of love that Beethoven’s heart pursued in life and the bitter struggle between absolute power and justice.
Representing the apogee of creative genius, Fidelio, unfortunately is rarely staged. Thanks to David DiChiera, we got to enjoy a story about justice, freedom and love, as well as an orchestral score and aria that shine among the most beautiful in all opera. Christian Badea was conductor of the MOT Orchestra, which sounded sublime.
Click here to hear a conductor John Pascoe take us through Beethoven’s Fidelio. In the podcast, we discover just how amazing it is to sing while lying down on the job.
18th century Spain sets the scene for this dramatic tale of the nobleman Florestan, wrongly condemned to die in prison after exposing the political corruption of the tyrant Pizarro. That is until Florestan’s wife Leonare, disguised as a male prison guard named Fidelio, gains employment at the prison. Under the watchful eyes of husband’s captors, Leonare ultimately risks her life in an attempt to save her husband’s. Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio is a stirring story of heroism, justice and love that is not to be missed.
Opera by Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner and Georg Friedrich Sonnleithner
Based on the drama by Jean Nicolas Bouilly
Premiered in Vienna, 1805
Final revision premiered in Vienna, 1814
Sung in German with English translations projected above the stage
Running time about 2½ hrs
Saturday, April 13, 7:30p
Wednesday, April 17, 7:30p
Friday, April 19, 7:30p
Saturday, April 20, 7:30p
Sunday, April 21, 2:30p
The image above is a detail from a photograph by John Grigaitis. The image includes Angela Theis (Marzellina), on the left, and Christine Goerke (Leonore) of the Michigan Opera Theatre production, Fidelio.