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Beethoven's LEONORE (1805)


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Author Topic: Beethoven's LEONORE (1805)  (Read 280 times)
Neil McGowan
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« on: September 04, 2014, 09:44:23 pm »

A peculiar discussion is going on elsewhere - a take-down of Beethoven's finest work, the opera LEONORE (revised as "FIDELIO" by the composer a few years later).

The opera was written against the background of Napoleonic tyranny throughout Europe - in fact the premiere took place on the day that Napoleonic troops had invaded Vienna. The topic of political prisoners was one that many throughout Europe found easy to comprehend.

For my money, it's the finest opera of the first two decades of the C19th - as a piece of superb music-theatre.

We are, in fact, to have a new production of the 1805 "Leonore" version of the opera, in just a week's time - given by the Pokrovsky Chamber Opera company.  Sadly I shall miss the opening few nights, and have to catch the producion in a few weeks time instead.

Do people truthfully have problems with this fine work?

I thoroughly recommend the three-act 1805 version, which has substantial musical differences from its later revision. For example, there is no "Abscheulicher!" at all...  the lead singer (a mezzo role, surely?) speaks the open text as an unpitched declamation during the aria's introduction - and only begins to sing in the lyrical second section with the two intertwined horn lines.  The character of Rocco is less ambivalent, and more money-grasping in 'Leonore' than the revision, too.

And, of course... you get the 'proper' Leonore overture Smiley
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ahinton
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2014, 09:28:00 am »

A peculiar discussion is going on elsewhere - a take-down of Beethoven's finest work, the opera LEONORE (revised as "FIDELIO" by the composer a few years later).
One person's "discussion" is another person's - er - um - oh, never mind...

The opera was written against the background of Napoleonic tyranny throughout Europe - in fact the premiere took place on the day that Napoleonic troops had invaded Vienna. The topic of political prisoners was one that many throughout Europe found easy to comprehend.

For my money, it's the finest opera of the first two decades of the C19th - as a piece of superb music-theatre.
Beethoven's "finest work"? That's a very large claim indeed and not one that I think could realistically be justified; "the finest opera of the first two decades of the C19th" is also a very large claim but I can see no sensible argument against it and, given that it (in both its guises as one, if you will - i.e. "et duobus unus", as Sorabji would have put in albeit in a quite different context!) was Beethoven's only opera, that achievement is surely all the more remarkable.
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