Relayed from the Free Trade Hall
Relayed to London and Daventry
The Opera composed by Beethoven
THE HALLÃ‰ CHORUS : Chorus Master, HAROLD DAWBER
THE HALLÃ‰ ORCHESTRA, conducted by Sir HAMILTON HARTY
BEETHOVEN was not strongly attracted to the Operatic form, but the noble theme of the story of the prisoner Florestan and his devoted wife Leonora pleased him so well that when he was commissioned to write an Opera he threw himself with the keenest zest into the task. retiring to a country house in the summer of 1805, and returning to Vienna with the fine and moving work we are now to hear.
Before the Opera begins, we need to know that the Spanish nobleman FLOEESTAN (Tenor), having incurred the hatred of PIZARRO (Bass), the Governor of a prison, has been secretly arrested and imprisoned there by his enemy, who has given it out that Florestan is dead.
The imprisoned man's wife, LEONORA (Soprano), relieves that ho is alive, and in the prison. She disguises herself as a boy, calling herself Fidelio, and contrives to get into the building as assistant to the chief gaoler, Rocco (Bass).
The Opera opens with a duet between
Jaquino (Tenor), another of the gaoler's assistants, and Marcelline (Soprano). Rocco's daughter. The man urges the rather fickle maid to marry him, but she fancies the new 'lad' Fidelio.
Rocco comes in, and Fidelio appears. The gaoler looks with favour on the sentiments that Mareellina entertains for Fidelio. There is now a fine quartet, in which Jaquino makes the fourth. Each sings the same tune. one entering after another, in canon' form, as it is called.
Rocco sings a solo about the necessity for young folk to have some money on which to start married life.
Leonora dare not reveal herself as a woman. even to ease Jaquino's mind, and remove the obstacle to his winning Marcelline, for her only hope of rescuing her husband lies in maintaining her disguise.
She is able to learn from Rocco that Florestan is in a deep dungeon beneath the castle.
Now a march heralds the appearance of the Governor, Pizarro. He receives a despatch warning him that the Prime Minister, Don Ferrando, is about to inspect the prison, for a rumour has reached high quarters that Pizarro has used his position to revenge himself on his enemies.
In a powerful Air. Pizarro declares his intention to make an end of Florestan, who now has become a very dangerous captive to have in the prison.
A trumpeter is placed aloft on the tower, and is instructed to blow a fanfare when he sees the Prime Minister's cavalcade approaching.
Pizarro tries to bribe Rocco to kill Florestan, but on the gaoler's shrinking from the deed. the Governor says that he himself will do it, and Rocco is sent to dig a grave in an old disused cistern in the dungeons.
Leonora has overheard the plot, and takes: courage to try and save her husband. She sings a touching Air, 'Come, hope, let not the last-star of the weary fade out.'
The Act ends with a chorus of prisoners, who: are allowed out for a little while, to. enjoy the sunshine. They are speedily sent back to their, gloomy cells by the callous Pizarro.
The scene is Florestan's dungeon. The prisoner sings a touching air of mingled distress, and faith, and then Rocco, with Fidelio to help him, comes to dig the grave.....
The wife recognizes with emotion her husband's voice, and though she dare not reveal herself, she gives him some bread and wine,
Pizarro enters, determined to make an end of his enemy. He is about to do so when Fidelio interposes, points a pistol at the Governor, and tells him she is Florestan's wife.
At this instant the trumpet-call rings out from the battlements. The Prime Minister is at hand! Pizarro hastens away to meet him, and husband and wife join in a glad duet, 'O inexpressible joy'!
In the last Scene, Florestan is brought out of his dungeon, and DON FERRANDO (Bass) recognizes in him a friend whom he thought was dead. Pizarro's punishment is sternly decreed by the Prime Minister, and Leonora removes her husband's chains, amid the rejoicings of tho people, who sing the praises of Leonora's wifely courage and devotion.