It may have seemed a good idea to stage Beethoven's Fidelio without the tedious dialogue but this singspiel without the spiel is in danger of throwing the baby away with the bathwater. This is apparent early in Act I when it appears that Rocco and Fidelio are communicating telepathically. Rocco stares at Fidelio and Fidelio stares back then Rocco continues singing: "Well said my son " I did not particularly mind this but I did miss the out of step soldiers' march. There are no soldiers in this production. And I did miss the prisoner's release. Instead of the moving sight of prisoners stepping blinking into the sunlight we just see the chorus singing with stocking masks over their heads.
I do not know how this performance was billed. It looks to me like a semi-staging. The whole thing is undramatic and anyone who did not know the story would be struggling to make sense of it. Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic give a lively account of the score and Juliane Banse is a vivacious Marzelline. The distinguished bass-baritoneThomas Quasthoff, making his stage debut, is a striking Don Fernando. The rest of the cast just about pass muster, including the normally reliable Angela Denoke in the title role.
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