26 Aug 2005
Fidelio, KlangBogen Wien
By Larry L Lash [Financial Times, 26 August 2005]
Fidelio has four different overtures for a good reason. The 1805 world premiere was a disaster, playing only three performances mostly to Napoleon's soldiers, who had stormed Vienna days before. Beethoven may not have possessed an acute sense of theatre but he was no fool: he created a second version of the opera for 1806. It, too, failed. A Prague production saw more revisions (and yet another overture), but it took until 1814 for the Fidelio we all know and love to emerge. So why revisit that disastrous original after Ludwig Van had acknowledged what was broke and fixed it?