Opera last look: Fidelio

I had reservations about catching the final night of Fidelio at the Royal Opera. The bad notices for this production (although not for the performances) had lowered my expectations, but in fact there is much to enjoy about this work, and no doubt explains why it is a favourite among some people.

It is easy to understand why it is still performed. The leading lady gets to disguise herself as a boy, fend off the love interest of a woman, rescue her husband and inspire a minor revolution. All during this there are some very interesting arias to sing, and the second half things get particularly dramatic. It is a rather inspiring work with a strong central character.

Nina Stemme in the lead role was also strong and believable. She spoke on an earlier Royal Opera podcast about the role and she gives the piece a solid foundation. She also looks perfect for the role of a woman who disguises herself as a boy (and she is helped by some rather sensible trousers, jacket and cap)...

At times amongst all this political intrigue and outrage, it seems odd that there is such pretty music and magical choruses. If the music and the drama don't seem to gel, it is an interesting curiosity nevertheless.

The staging could have been much simpler and works better in the second half when things are less complicated. All told, a shame there were empty seats for its final night. Perhaps future productions should be just concert versions as things would no doubt work as well (and possibly be cheaper to mount)...

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