This is an outstanding production of Beethoven's only opera Fidelio. The staging is more modern rather than completely authentic, but this updating is done in an intelligent way. The staging is always involving, the lighting has atmosphere while not too dark and the costumes and sets are great.
When it comes to DVDs too, it is one of the better opera DVDs I have had the privilege of seeing recently. The sound is very rarely muffled and the picture quality and video directing has little to fault it either.
Musically, it is a triumph. Beethoven's score is undeniably superb (as are the story and characters) and the orchestra play as solidly as ever, and James Levine's conducting shows real commitment to the score. The Prisoner's Chorus is appropriately heartfelt, not just because of the orchestra and conducting but because of the chorus who are just wonderful, the quartet is sublime and Auberscheulischer and In Des Lebens are very intense.
The cast are truly impressive. Robert Lloyd is a dignified Don Fernando, and Falk Struckmann is a truly malevolent Don Pizarro. Marzelline and Jaquino interact very well and are excellent vocally, and Rene Pape is a richly-voiced Roco particularly in his Money Aria. Ben Heppner sings beautifully and is very dramatically intense as Florestan, however the real plaudits go to the Leonore of the production Karita Mattila, who proves herself an outstanding singing-actress in this demanding role.
All in all, an outstanding production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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