Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72

Fidelio (originally named Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe; English: Leonore, or The Triumph of Married Love), Op. 72, is a German opera with spoken dialogue by Ludwig van Beethoven, his only opera. The German libretto was originally prepared by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly and the work premiered at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 20 November 1805. The next year Stephan von Breuning helped shorten the three acts to two. After further work on the libretto by Georg Friedrich Treitschke a final version performed at the Kärntnertortheater on 23 May 1814. By convention both of the first two versions are referred to as Leonore. The opera tells how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named "Fidelio", rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison. Bouilly's scenario fits Beethoven's aesthetic and political outlook: a story of personal sacrifice, heroism and eventual triumph (the usual topics of Beethoven's "middle period") with its underlying struggle for liberty and justice mirroring contemporary political movements in Europe. Some notable moments in the opera include the "Prisoners' Chorus", an ode to freedom sung by a chorus of political prisoners, Florestan's vision of Leonore come as an angel to rescue him, and the scene in which the rescue finally takes place. The finale celebrates Leonore's bravery with alternating contributions of soloists and chorus.


VIDEO: Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72, Kurt Masur 

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