Arnold Schönberg Chor

Fidelio 1805 is the provocative and unmistakable title found on the cover of this opera recording. The subtitle “Opera in Three Acts” on the back of the CD further clarifies the fact that this is not the commonly known two-act version of Fidelio, but the first version. This recording documents the production from the Theater an der Wien that premiered on August 5, 2005 with Musical Director Bertrand de Billy.
The streamlining and dramatic intensification of the original version is what eventually led to its success, but the earlier version from 1805 certainly has its advantages as well. In any event, it is enormously enlightening to take a deeper look at the original version of this great opera, which Beethoven did not change out of his own volition, but upon the urging of friends and colleagues in 1806. Only after the failure of the unsuccessful second version did Beethoven once again revise the work into the form we know today.
The long dialog scenes have been replaced in this recording with textual insertions by Walter Jens. In 1985, the novelist and German literature historian wrote the work “Roccos Erzählung” (Rocco’s Story), which tells the plot of the work as seen by the the opera’s aging jailer, Rocco. Excerpts from this monolog are read on the recording by Martin Schwab, an ensemble and honorary member of Vienna’s Burgtheater.