This is the third post in a series which we hope will help you to get to know Beethoven’s rarely-performed Fidelio before you come to see it at HGO. Please let us know what you think by commenting on our Facebook page or leaving a comment on this post.
Fidelio – Synopsis, Act II
Alone in his cell, Florestan sings of his trust in God; he has a vision of Leonore (Gott! Welch Dunkel hier! …In des Lebens Frühlingstagen"- "God! What darkness here...In the spring of life"). He collapses and falls asleep.
Listen to Jonas Kaufmann – or to a great Florestan of the past, Jon Vickers.
Rocco and Leonore come to dig his grave. Florestan awakens and learns at last that he is in Pizarro's prison, he asks that a message be sent to his wife, Leonore, but Rocco says it's impossible. Florestan begs for water to drink, and Rocco tells Fidelio to give him some. Florestan does not recognize the disguised Leonore but tells her she will be rewarded in Heaven ("Euch werde Lohn in bessern Welten" - "You shall be rewarded in better worlds"). Under Rocco's watchful eye, Leonore gives Florestan a crust of bread.
Rocco sounds the alarm for Pizarro, and tells Leonore to leave, but instead she hides. Pizarro reveals his identity to Florestan, who accuses him of murder ("Er sterbe! Doch er soll erst wissen" - "Let him die! But first he should know"). Pizarro brandishes a dagger, and Leonore, leaping between him and Florestan, threatens to shoot Pizarro. A trumpet heralds the arrival of the minister, and Jaquino enters to announce that the minister is waiting. Rocco tells the soldiers to escort Governor Pizarro upstairs. Pizarro declares he will have revenge, and Rocco expresses his fear of what is to come ("Es schlägt der Rache Stunde" - "Revenge's bell tolls"). Florestan and Leonore sing a love duet ("O namenlose Freude!" - "O unnamed joy!").
Out in the yard, the prisoners and townsfolk sing to the day and hour of justice ("Heil sei dem Tag!" - "Hail to the day!"). The minister, Don Fernando, announces that tyranny has ended. Rocco enters with Leonore and Florestan, and he asks Don Fernando to help them ("Wohlan, so helfet! Helft den Armen!" - "So help the poor ones!"). He explains how Leonore disguised herself as Fidelio to save her husband. Rocco describes Pizarro's murder plot, and Pizarro is led away to prison. Florestan is released from his chains by Leonore, and the crowd acclaims her ("Wer ein holdes Weib errungen'" - "Who has got a good wife").
Coming Next: Preparing the chorus, by Richard Bado and Craig Kier.