FIDELIO – Beethoven’s Only Opera

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FIDELIO photo courtesy of Virginia Opera.

FIDELIO photo courtesy of Virginia Opera.

The 2014/15 Kentucky Opera season will launch in September with FIDELIO, Beethoven’s only opera, and perhaps one of the most interesting productions of the Classical Age.

As Maestro Joseph Mechavich said, “FIDELIO was a challenge for Beethoven. His other compositions would take a couple of years––in some cases, months––to complete, but FIDELIO took twelve years to finish.” In fact, Beethoven went through four drafts of the composition and a myriad of dramaturgs and librettists before he found a resolution.

Realizing that even a master like Beethoven struggled on occasion, we have to ask ourselves why this genre was such a challenge for him. “He always said he was very uncomfortable writing for the voice,” Maestro Mechavich said. Instead of the voice, Beethoven heard the instruments of the orchestra in his head while he was composing. “It’s interesting,” continued Maestro Mechavich, “because Beethoven’s compositional struggle mirrors the struggle of the characters in FIDELIO, and the ‘struggle over adversity’ theme that characterized his middle period works.”

Another interesting facet of FIDELIO is that is it a singspiel: an operatic form which includes spoken dialogue alongside the soaring musical numbers, and is typically acknowledged as the forerunner to modern musical theatre. “The genre (of a singspiel) is not so foreign to our audience –– THE MAGIC FLUTE is a quite famous example of a singspiel, as well as CARMEN,” Maestro Mechavich said. “Both of these productions were originally composed with spoken dialogue in between the musical numbers.” This sub-genre of traditional opera was originally developed to appeal to larger audiences, in an effort to make it more accessible.

Though Beethoven was a master composer, noted for revolutionizing the symphonic and string quartet structures and always pushing the envelope in terms of form, accessibility, and harmony, ultimately Maestro Mechavich believes it’s the story that our audience will fall in love with. “FIDELIO is about a hero and triumph. Love wins in the end. The humanity and heroism that runs through the production is iconic and can be transported to any setting without losing its power.”

Tickets for FIDELIO go on sale August 11. Secure your seats now with a season subscription. We hope you’ll join us for this very special presentation of Beethoven’s sole opera, FIDELIO, and a love story that transcends time and place.