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Beethoven

Early 1814 The Opera was again revived for a benefit concert, but with substantial changes made. Treitschke was brought in to change the libretto once again. Beethoven, pleased with the results wrote to him 'it has decided me to rebuild the desolate ruins of an ancient fortress.' Treitschke rewrote much of the libretto and Beethoven made considerable changes to the music, restoring some of the pages from before the first revision.

23 May 1814 First performance of Fidelio in the new version at the Kärnthnerthor theatre with Umlauf conducting. It was a tremendous success. A new overture was written, now known as 'Fidelio' - unlike its predecessors this overture makes no use of melodic material from the opera.

18 July 1814 7th performance at which all benefits go to Beethoven.

21 November 1814 First performance outside Vienna takes place in Prague.

3 November 1822 Further revival in Vienna

May 18 1832 - First London performance of Fidelio at the King's Theatre.

Sep 19th 1839 - First New York performance at the Park Theatre.

Anna Milder-Hauptmann    Joseph Demmer

Original Cast 1805

Don Fernando...Weinkopf

Don Pizarro.......S.Mayer +

Florestan...........Joseph Demmer*

Leonore.............Anna Milder **

Rocco.................Rothe

Marcellina.........Louise Müller

Jaquino..............Caché

Conductor..........I.Seyfried+++

1806 Revival

Don Fernando...Weinkopf

Don Pizarro.......S.Mayer

Florestan.......... J.Röckel***

Leonore.............Anna Milder

Rocco.................Rothe

Marcellina.........Louise Müller

Jaquino..............Caché

1814 Revival

Don Fernando..Ignaz Saal

Don Pizarro......Johann M.Vogl

Florestan...........Radichi

Leonore.............Anna Milder

Rocco.................Carl Weinmüller

Marcellina.........Theresa Bondra

Jaquino..............Frühwald

conductor..........M.Umlauf++

* Beethoven was disatisfied with the tenor Joseph Demmer and replaced him in the 1806 revival with Joseph Röckel

** Anna Milder (1785-1838) married in 1810 and was known as Anna Milder-Hauptmann - she later became a champion of Schubert's songs. At the famous concert of Dec 22 1808 she was to have been the soloist in a performance of the aria 'Ah, perfido!' but refused to perform as Beethoven had offended her. Clearly any differences were forgotten as she sang the part of Leonore yet again in the 1814 revival of Fidelio. Beethoven wrote the canon 'Ich kuesse Sie, druecke Sie an mein Herz', Hess 250 for her in 1816.

*** Josef August Röckel (1783-1870) came to Vienna from Salzburg. In 1813 Hummel married the singer Elisabeth Röckel (1793-1883), sister of August and well known to Beethoven.

+ Friedrich Sebastian Mayer (1773-1835)

++Michael Umlauf (1781-1842). Conducted the 1814 revival of Fidelio and the premier of the 9th symphony in 1824.

+++Ignaz Von Seyfried (1776-1841). A pupil of Mozart and Albrechtsberger whose complete works on thoroughbass, harmony and composition were published, in three volumes, by Seyfried. From 1797-1825 he was Kapellmeister at the Theatre an der Wien. He was an editor of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Franz von Suppe(1819-1895) was a pupil of his. He later wrote of the premier of the 3rd piano concerto - "At the performance of the concerto he asked me to turn the pages for him (Beethoven, of course, was the piano soloist); but -- heaven help me! -- that was easier said than done. I saw almost nothing but empty leaves; at the most on one page or the other, a few Egyptian hieroglyphics, wholly unintelligible to me, scribbled down to serve as clues for him; for he played nearly all the solo part from memory; since, as was so often the case he had not had time to put it on paper. He gave me a secret glance whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages, and my scarcely concealed anxiety not to miss the decisive moment amused him greatly...."

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Beethoven Reference Site  © 2010

20 Nov 1805 First performance, mainly in front of French officers in a half empty opera house. The conductor was Ignaz von Seyfried. The overture now known as Leonore no.2 was used.

21 and 22 Nov 1805 After two further performances in front of empty houses, Beethoven withdrew the Opera.

Dec 1805 A piano run through at Prince Lichnowsky's palace during which Beethoven's friends urged cuts to the opera.

1806 Beethoven engaged Stefan von Breuning to adapt the libretto. The three acts were reduced to two. The principal numbers removed were an aria for Pizarro and chorus, a duet for Marzelline and Leonora, and a trio for Marzelline, Jaquino and Rocco.

29 March 1806 First performance of the second version after only one orchestral rehearsal. The overture now known as Leonore no.3 was used.

10 April 1806 After the second performance Beethoven stormed out of the Opera House with the full score after an argument over payments. He refused to put on the opera again.

1807 The Overture Leonore no.1 Op.138 was written for an intended performance at Prague which never materialised.

The history of the work

1803 Emmanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812) engaged Beethoven to write an opera for the Theater an der Wien and invited him to take up lodgings in the theatre for free. His brother, Caspar shared the lodgings looking after the composer's business affairs. The opera "Vestas Feuer" was planned for March 1804.

4 Jan 1804 Vestas Feuer discarded, 81 pages of the autograph score still exist (the opening scene) Beethoven obtained a libretto of Bouilly's "Leonore" which Joseph Sonnleithner (1766-1835) had adapted and translated from the French. The text had already been set by the French composer Pierre Gaveaux (1761-1825) and was produced on Feb 19th 1798. The Italian composer Ferdinando Paer (1771-1839) produced his version on Oct 3 1804.

14 Feb 1804 Theater an der Wien came under the control of Baron Von Braun, negating Beethoven's contract with Schikaneder. Beethoven was temporarily forced to give up his lodgings at the theatre, but Von Braun engaged Schikaneder and the contract for an opera from Beethoven was renewed.

Summer 1805 Main work done on Fidelio at Hetzendorf

15 Oct 1805 First performance of the work planned. This was delayed due to censorship of some parts of the libretto.

13 Nov 1805 French troops occupied Vienna. Most of the Viennese nobility and Beethoven's friends left the city.

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Despite several attempts to produce operas throughout his life, Beethoven only completed one - 'Fidelio'. The opera is set around a prison in Seville, Spain and concerns a man Florestan who is unjustly imprisoned by his political opponent, the prison governor Pizarro. Florestan's wife Leonore refuses to believe reports that her husband is dead and determines to save him. She disguises herself as a man Fidelio and is employed as assistant to the jailor Rocco. On hearing that the minister Don Fernando plans an inspection of the prison as he has heard of the injustices, Pizarro resolves to kill Florestan. At that moment, Leonore reveals her true identity and threatens to shoot Pizarro - the trumpet sounds heralding the arrival of Don Fernando. Pizarro is lead away and Leonore given the keys to unlock her husband's chains - a great hymn of joy, celebrating the power of love concludes the opera.

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