Into the Light With Beethoven's 'Fidelio'

Email a Friend
Jessica Phillips, clarinet.

Revolutionary times call for revolutionary music, and Beethoven was living in revolutionary times. At the beginning of the 19th century, he quickly became disillusioned by Napoleon Bonaparte — a leader who initially seemed concerned with freedom but was ultimately obsessed with his own power. Beethoven's political anguish rang out in his music, as did his deeply-held beliefs about the heroic power of ordinary people. 

Beethoven spent more than 10 years revising Fidelio, the only opera he ever wrote. This was about more than music for the great composer. It was about freedom, devotion and the triumph of human dignity over tyranny. In this episode, host Merrin Lazyan speaks with Jessica Phillips, second clarinetist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, about Beethoven's revolutionary sound. We also hear from soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, who sings the lead role of Leonora, about the most moving musical moments in Fidelio.

“O namelose Freude!” (Adrianne Pieczonka and Klaus Florian Vogt): 

“Nur hurtig fort, nur frisch gegraben” (Adrianne Pieczonka and Falk Struckmann): 

This episode features excerpts from the following album:

Beethoven: Fidelio (Sony Classical, 1996)
— Deborah Voigt, soprano; Ben Heppner, tenor; Matthias Hölle, bass; Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, soprano; Michael Schade, tenor; Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Colin Davis.