Monday, October 3, 2011


It's a rare moment in an opera company's life when the fates conspire to allow for performances of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. It doesn’t matter where you are: so many things are repeated before Fidelio comes up even once. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against experiencing anything by Verdi or Puccini any time! But I am rather wildly excited to watch Fidelio take the stage here at HGO.

Fidelio opens here at HGO on October 28; we just started rehearsals today. For the next several weeks, we will use this space to take a closer look at the production, the music, and the cast of Fidelio, and you’ll meet some of the people involved in making it happen at HGO. Check back on Mondays throughout October for new postings.

In its 57 seasons, HGO has performed Fidelio only twice: in the 1970-71 season, in the teeth of the Vietnam conflict (and the American League Baseball strike), and in the 1983-84 season, a time of simmering unrest in Iran, Iraq, Cameroon and elsewhere, less than a decade before the fall the Berlin wall. We offer it now, as part of our 57th season, with five performances starting October 28, 2011. Who knows what resonances this 206-year-old opera might offer up in the wake of the Arab Spring?

Why such a rarity? HGO Artistic Director Patrick Summers shares some of his thoughts here.

Fidelio is famously difficult to sing, demanding a cast that is born, not made. In the 1970s, HGO's Leonore was the late, great Leonie Rysanek; in 1983 it was the extraordinary and powerful Hildegard Behrens. Our 21st-century Leonore is the great Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila, heard and seen here in a selection from acclaimed Metropolitan Opera performances in the same role. That clip, by the way, is the production we’re doing here at HGO, magnificently conceived by the great director J├╝rgen Flimm. Our Florestan – a whopping great role that requires a singer of substantial power and finesse as well as charisma – is the brilliant Simon O’Neill. Check out his recording of “Gott! Welch dunkel hier” from Act 2.

To get ready for Fidelio, subscribers are invited to join us for "From Mozart to Romanticism: Fidelio in Context" – a free event (reservations required - RSVP to on October 10 at 6:00 p.m. Associate director Gina Lapinski and HGOco Director Sandra Bernhard will discuss the shift from Mozart and the Enlightenment to Beethoven and the Romantic Era, examining a society in transition from Revolution to freedom through the lens of its creative and artistic output.

No comments: