Notes and Editorial Reviews
From the Glyndebourne Festival Opera 1979
Stage Direction by PETER HALL
Sound Format: PCM Stereo
Picture Format: 4:3
Region Code: 0 worldwide
Menu Languages: German, French, English, Spanish
Subtitle Languages: German, French, English, Spanish
Running Time: 120 min
* Sir Peter Hall's outstanding 1979 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production of Fidelio remains remarkably faithful to the way Beethoven intended the opera to be. The stage directions of the original version - completed in 1814 after two revisions - are followed exactly by Sir Peter.
* Yet he still manages to inject fresh excitement and suspense into Fidelio with John Bury's original lighting and
design providing a perfect framework for the drama and conflicts that centre on political intrigue and repression.
* Elisabeth Söderström with her "gleaming tone and elegant, long-limbed phrasing" (The Guardian) portrays the courageous Leonore in such a riveting and outstanding performance that alone is worth the whole show.
R E V I E W S
Bernard Haitink, cond. Elisabeth Söderström (
); Curt Applegren (
); Elizabeth Gale (
); Robert Allman (
); Anton de Ridder (
); Glyndebourne Ch, London PO
101 099 (DVD: 120: 00) Live: Glyndebourne 1979
In every way, this release of a live 1979 Glyndebourne performance is markedly superior to the recent Harnoncourt-led Zurich production issued on a TDC DVD. Most significantly, this one, unlike that version, is not a bare-bones affair. Admittedly, the Glyndebourne hall may not allow the kind of elaborate stagings that larger houses permit. Nonetheless, from Haitink?s emergence in the pit to the jubilant act II finale, this release projects a compelling sense of theater. For one thing, the sets are apt and thoroughly suggestive of a prison. Then, too, the camera is used to telling effect: it wisely avoids full-head close-ups, reserving such shots for a few poignant instances, Florestan?s initial appearance being a case in point. At the same time, it is close enough throughout that we can experience what is often lost in a comparatively distant seat in a large opera house, namely, that performers are not only singing, they are also
, and, in this case, acting with purpose, commitment, and utter involvement. Watch Söderström, for instance, and see that she is not merely singing the role of Leonore; she
Leonore. So, too with de Ridder?s Florestan. One might carp with a few shortcomings in the production (the act I March offers no complementary stage movement), but these are minor issues.
Of course, the ultimate issue for some may be whether or not the performance itself is worthy. Certainly, those familiar with the Haitink-led CD account of a decade later will know that he has strong feeling for this work. That sympathy is also evident throughout this earlier effort. His pacing is apt, the lighter sections of the first act never permitted to drag, as they do in some other admired versions. All of the singers are more than acceptable and, in the case of Söderström, especially distinguished. More than any other musical genre, opera is suited to visual recording, especially a comparatively intimate work such as this. No
is included, which is all to the good. Throughout, the sound is wide-range. For anyone who wants to see as well as hear it, this
is warmly recommended.
FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
Works on This Recording
Fidelio, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Elisabeth Söderström (Soprano),
Robert Allman (Bass Baritone),
Curt Appelgren (Bass),
Anton de Ridder (Tenor),
Elizabeth Gale (Soprano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra,
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Written: 1804/1814; Vienna, Austria
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