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The distant origin of Fidelio dates fromwhen the librettist and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder worked out a contract with Beethoven to write an opera. The contract included free lodging for Beethoven in the apartment complex that was part of Schikaneder's large suburban theater, the Theater an der Wien. Beethoven was to set a new libretto by Schikaneder, entitled Vestas Feuer ; however, this libretto was not to Beethoven's liking. He spent about a month composing music for it, then abandoned it when the libretto for Fidelio came to his attention.

The time Beethoven spent on Vestas Feuer was not entirely wasted, as two important numbers from FidelioPizarro's "'Ha! Welch' ein Augenblick! Beethoven continued to live at the Theater an der Wien for some time after he had abandoned Vestas Feuer for Fidelioand was eventually freed from his obligations to Schikaneder after the latter was fired from his post as theater director in Fidelio itself, which Beethoven LP) in immediately after giving up on Vestas Feuerwas first performed in and was extensively revised by the composer for subsequent performances in and Beethoven published the libretto and, ina vocal score under the title Leonoreand the current convention is to use the name Leonore for both the three-act and two-act versions and Fidelio only for the final revision.

The first version with a three-act German libretto adapted by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly premiered at the Theater an der Wien on 20 Novemberwith additional performances the following two nights. The success of these performances was hindered by the fact that Vienna was under French military occupation, and most of the audience were French military officers who had little interest in German opera.

After this premiere, Beethoven's friends suggested he revise and shorten the opera into just two acts, and he did so with the help of his close friend, Stephan von Breuning. The composer also wrote a new overture now known as "Leonore No. In this form, the opera was first performed on 29 March and 10 Aprilwith greater success. Further performances were prevented by a disagreement between Beethoven and the theatre management. InBeethoven revised his opera yet again, with additional work on the libretto by Georg Friedrich Treitschke.

The year-old Franz Schubert was in the audience, having sold his school books to obtain a ticket. The increasingly deaf Beethoven conducted the performance, "assisted" by Michael Umlaufwho later performed the same task for Beethoven at the premiere of the Ninth Symphony.

The role of Pizarro was taken by Johann Michael Voglwho later became known for his collaborations with Schubert. This version of the opera was a great success, and Fidelio has been part of the operatic repertory ever since. Although critics have noted the similarity in plot with Gluck 's opera Orfeo ed Euridice —the underground rescue mission in which the protagonist must control, or conceal, his emotions in order to retrieve his or her spouse, [3] we do not know whether or not Beethoven or any of the librettists had this in mind while constructing the opera.

No other work of Beethoven caused him so much frustration and disappointment. He found the difficulties posed by writing and producing an opera so disagreeable, he never attempted to compose another. In a letter to Treitschke he said, "I assure you, dear Treitschke, that this opera will win me a martyr's crown. You have by your co-operation saved what is best from the shipwreck. For all this I shall be eternally grateful to you.

LP) full score was not published untiland all three versions are known as Beethoven's Opus The first performance outside Vienna took place in Prague on 21 Novemberwith a revival in Vienna on 3 November Fidelio was Arturo Toscanini 's first complete opera performance to be broadcast on radio in the United States, over the NBC radio network, in Decemberby the NBC Symphony Orchestrafeaturing soloists Rose Bampton and Jan Peerce though a shortwave broadcast Beethoven* - Fidelio (Vinyl one act, Beethoven* - Fidelio (Vinyl by Toscanini, had earlier been relayed from a 16 August performance at Salzburg.

Fidelio was the first opera performed in Berlin after the end of World War II, with the Deutsche Oper staging it under the baton of Robert Heger at the only undamaged theatre, the Theater des Westensin September Now that political events in Germany have restored to the concepts of human dignity and liberty their original significance, this is the opera which, thanks to the music of Beethoven, gives us comfort and courage LP), Fidelio is not an opera in the sense we are used to, nor is Beethoven a musician for the theater, or a dramaturgist.

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