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  • Writer's pictureladiesvoices

*Fidelio* on 3/28/17

Barbara and I saw Beethoven's *Fidelio* at the Met on 3/28/17. I had never seen it and had next to no familiarity with the work - - I heard a semi-staged performance at Royal Albert Hall in London sometime in the 90s, I think it was the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment or some other such rarefied hoo ha. I have next to no memory of it, it seemed like the rest of the audience enjoyed it more than I did.

That was not the case this time - - the audience loved it, and so did I! Though Barbara and I both agreed that we won't be rushing to see it again. I wouldn't describe it as "thrilling" but it was fascinating, meaningful, beautiful. Plus it was only two and half hours long, which is a bonus. It seems like at the two-and-a-half-hour mark in most Wagner operas, the curtain is just going up.

The overture was practically the best thing in the show. The way that he integrates the harmony and the orchestration, it blew me away. The definite stand-out number was the quartet early in the first act, "Mir ist so wunderbar." Wunderbar, indeed! Beautiful, deliciously constructed, nothing short of sublime. The word that kept coming to mind, throughout the opera, was Humanity. Beethoven's music in this opera drips with Humanity.

Sebastian Weigle was the conductor. Barbara noted that the orchestra didn't always sound like they were together, and they didn't - - I thought maybe it was intentional. I went to a master class years ago by American soprano Barbara Bonney and she told a story about German conductor Carlos Kleiber. He said that whenever it says "espressivo" in the score, that means that not everyone should be together, it should have a charming looseness, an expressive may I say off kilter quality. That doesn't work for everything (would hate to hear that in Webern), but I thought it worked nicely for Beethoven.

The production is by Jürgen Flimm, it was new in 2000. I liked it - - he updated it to sometime around the 1950s. The staging was imaginative and occasionally surprising, but never drew attention to itself, was never clever (I abhor cleverness). The final scene was staged like a ritual, for the performers and the audience. That was an interesting choice.

The singers were generally very good. The undisputed star of the show was Adrianne Pieczonka as Leonore, the heroic woman in drag.