San Francisco Symphony Presents Beethoven's 'Fidelio'

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

San Francisco Symphony San Francisco Symphony (Bill Swerbenski)

Tune in Saturday at 1 pm to hear the San Francisco Symphony's performance of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio — a work that turns the rescue opera genre on its head, proving itself a profound parable on feminine strength, marital devotion and Enlightenment values.

For Beethoven, the love of opera was lifelong and not fairly requited. Scheme after scheme on diverse subjects failed to gel, and the success of the one opera he actually wrote, the work that began as Leonore and came finally to be called Fidelio, arrived slowly and late — and at the cost of immense pain.

CAST (in order of appearance):

Jaquino: Nicholas Phan
Marzelline: Joélle Harvey
Rocco: Kevin Langan
Leonore: Nina Stemme
Don Pizarro: Alan Held
First Prisoner: Matthew Newlin
Second Prisoner: Craig Verm
Florestan: Brandon Jovanovich
Don Fernando: Luca Pisaroni

San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Comments [10]

Concetta Nardone from Nassau

tHE OPENING music from Act 2 is so full of desperation and then Gott, this still chokes me up. Forgot to praise the orchestra. My bad.

Nov. 27 2016 07:21 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Thank you, WQXR, for presenting this performance. Beethoven's music makes me happy an grateful to be alive. I don't think this cast can be bettered in our present music scene. The male chorus was resplendent in the Prisoner's Chorus as was the mixed chorus in the Finale. The violins and violas accompanying Don Pizzaro's "Ha! Welch ein augenblick!" at "Schon warich were accenting first and third beats, the better to underscore the rage `a la Toscanini's concert performance with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Leonora's "Abscheulischer..." aria revealed her outrage at Pizarro and the horns in "Komm, Hoffnung..." couldn't have been more on pitch. I hoped to hear more of the contrabassoon in the grave-digging scene, the better to underscore the horror: a personal preference, that. The orchestral beginning of Act II was Florestan's sorrow and despair and has gravitas `a la Furtwaengler; and an astounding surprise presented itself in Florestan's first word, that's so difficult to sing, "Gott!" in that there was a quiet attack that was followed by a crescendo: a first-hearing for this listener. The solo oboe, the "angel Leonora", was clearly audible; and the final chorus, "Heil sei dem Tag..." was glorious. Judging from the insignia on one of the second violinist's music stand in the photograph, it looks like the publisher's edition used was Breitkopf & Ha"rtel whose full score I have. If I were in the Davies Symphony Hall audience, I would have been among those cheering at the conclusion.

Nov. 27 2016 03:40 AM
Theodore Cerame from Perris, CA

Correct version of comment:
Although of course Beethoven stands at the top of the all-time greats and that Fidelio is a Masterpiece demanding International exposure, every time I hear an all-time best Opera I think, “That is the greatest Opera I ever heard.” Which means to say that between Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and the like each wrote, the all-time greatest Operas. I know that that does not make sense but even so it makes a point. Would like to commend Concetta Nardone for her forth-right courage to openly state what many have been thinking. Especially when it comes to Opera; if the highest form of Art of the finest of all minorities does not hold up the best of Human Qualities what hope does the future of mankind have?
I first heard Nina Stemme singing Jenufa and fell in love with her. I am glad that since then she has gone on to become an International Star.

Nov. 26 2016 05:23 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

I REALLY ENJOYED today's performance. what gorgeous music and singing.
Bravi tutti.

Nov. 26 2016 05:08 PM
Theodore Cerame from Perris, CA

I agree with everyone except; a) Although of course Beethoven stands at the top of the all-time greats and that Fidelio is a Masterpiece demanding International exposure, every time I hear one of the all-time best Opera’s I say to myself, “That is the greatest Opera I ever heard.” Which means to say that between Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and the like each wrote, the all-time greatest Operas. I know that that does not make sense but even so it makes a point. Also would like to commend Concetta Nardone from Nassau for her forth-right courage to openly state what we’ve all been thinking. Especially when it comes to Opera; if the highest form of Art of the finest of all minorities does not hold up the best of Human Qualities what hope is there for the future of mankind have in spite of the knowledge of how things work?
Good listening to all.
About Nina Stemme. I first heard her long ago singing Jenufka and immediately fell in love with her. I am so glad that since then she has gone on to become an International Star.

Nov. 26 2016 04:34 PM
Theodore Ceramet from Perris, CA

I agree with everyone except; a) Although of course Beethoven stands at the top of the all-time greats and that Fidelio is a Masterpiece demanding International exposure, every time I hear one of the all-time best Opera’s I say to myself, “That is the greatest Opera I ever heard.” Which means to say that between Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and the like each wrote, the all-time greatest Operas. I know that that does not make sense but even so it makes a point. Also would like to commend Concetta Nardone from Nassau for her forth-right courage to openly state what we’ve all been thinking. Especially when it comes to Opera; if the highest form of Art of the finest of all minorities does not hold up the best of Human Qualities what hope is there for the future of mankind have in spite of the knowledge of how things work?
Good listening to all.
About Nina Stemme. I first heard her long ago singing Jenufka and immediately fell in love with her. I am so glad that since then she has gone on to become an International Star.

Nov. 26 2016 04:32 PM
Norman Weil from East Meadow,,NY

This is my favorite opera by my favorite composer.

Nov. 26 2016 01:44 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

An opera all about a brave, devoted, faithful wife. Quite a different sort than what we glorify today. Sluts and whores that pollute the media. The world of opera has many brave, redeeming women. Tosca, Brunhilde, Minnie, etc.

Nov. 26 2016 01:42 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Will certainly be listening to this. What glorious music.

Nov. 26 2016 07:07 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

I'm eager to hear this concert performance with this cast, this conductor and this orchestra, neither of whom I've heard before in "Fidelio". I've long felt that from the standpoint of conductors' interpretations, the two most convincing in pacing and dynamism are Toscanini's concert performance with the NBC Symphony recorded in 1944 and Furtwa"ngler's staged Salzburg Festival performance in 1950. Both conductors, like Mahler, elected to include the "Leonore Overture No. 3" after the " O Namenlose freude!" duet and right before the Finale. By coincidence, Brandon Jovanovich will be singing in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Les Troyens" performance today; and Joe'lle Harvey will be singing in Boston's Handel & Haydn Society's performance tonight of "Messiah".

Nov. 26 2016 01:59 AM

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