University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Beethoven: Fidelio

06/09/2013 1:00 pm
06/09/2013 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera Host Keith Brown writes:

You've been hearing a lot of historic recordings from the Met. Now listen to a recording made a half century ago at the famous Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Fidelio was taped live-in-performance on the opening night of its run there, February 24, 1961, with the reknowned Beethoven interpreter, Otto Klemperer on the podium.

Fidelio (1814), Beethoven's one and only opera, was Klemperer's operatic calling card; he directed it whenever he could in opera houses all over the world. The opening night audience and critics alike were ecstatic over Klemperer's 1961 Covent Garden Fidelio. The London press had already praised the 1957 Klemperer cycle of Beethoven symphonies with the Philharmonia orchestra. Klemperer got everything he wanted out of the Covent Garden orchestra and opera chorus, and the singing cast rose to the occasion as well. The distinguished Austrian soprano Sena Jurinac had never sung the role of Leonora before. She put in a passionate and absolutely convincing portrayal of the opera's heroine. Tenor Jon Vickers portrayed Leonora's imprisoned husband Florestan. Also heard as the jailor Rocco is the German basso Gottlob Frick.

The Klemperer Fidelio was broadcast over BBC Radio and has been preserved in BBC's audio archives. BBC licensed their airtapes of Fidelio for release in 2003, in digital upgrade from the original early stereo sound, on two compact discs through the Testament label.