- Narrated by: David Timson
- Length: 1 hr and 19 mins
- Original Recording Audiobook
- Release date: 10-26-12
- Language: English
- Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
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The most popular operas from the early 19th century are Italian - Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi. We know that Fidelio is important because it was Beethoven’s only opera, but it is not, on the face of it, as much fun as The Barber of Seville, or Don Pasquale. This is why Thomson Smillie’s introduction is so useful. He places the plot and the music against the background of Beethoven’s own turbulent life and suddenly we realise the importance and the uplifting nature of the themes he deals with - starting with fidelity, the name of the opera itself. This is a riveting preparation for seeing or hearing the whole opera.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Zaubermond on 04-20-13
Beethoven's only opera in all its glory
This is an outstanding title in the "Opera Explained" series, one free from a lot of extraneous detail and unneccessary introduction. We get right into the opera almost at once. And what an opera it is, containing as it does a political message, a paean to the joys of married love, and a score so demanding one wonders at the endurance of its performers. While the plot appears at first glance to be somewhat commonplace, it nonetheless shows the triumph of good over evil, justice over tyrrany, and hope over despair.
Furtwängler praised the opera, saying its political message and music "will always represent an appeal to conscience." But perhaps just as much, it is a monument to its composer's own statement: "Strength is the morality of the man who stands out from the rest, and it is mine."
Even if you're not a great fan of opera, if you love Beethoven, you're likely to enjoy this brief look at the incredible work he swore would win him "a martyr's crown" for his trouble. It is nothing less than a wonder to behold.
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