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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Beethoven's Fidelio at Opera Holland Park

Yvonne Howard as Leonore

Opera Holland Park
welcomes the return of its 2003 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio. I have been lucky enough to see both the 2003 production and the current revival.

Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera has become an important part of the modern operatic repertoire. Beethoven struggled to write the work, particularly the overture. The overture that features today is intensely dramatic and is, I believe, appropriate for the opera, although this is often debated. It is one of my favourite parts of the opera.

I often attend operas with non-opera goers and find it interesting to observe their reactions to different aspects of the performance. Often their opinions are the most valid. For example, Puccini is my opera weakness, and I find it very difficult to be critical about a production of Tosca, when I find the music so overpowering.

Fidelio at Opera Holland Park this summer has done well and seems to be popular among audiences. I definitely find it more convincing than the 2003 production. The conductor Paul Robinson is always a joy to see. I was conducted by him when I was younger and found him to easy to work with and very musical. Yvonne Howard as Leonore is terrifically boisterous, mastering the often tricky vocal part and acting convincingly with the rest of the cast. I love the layout of the stage in this Fidelio. Olivia Fuchs, who directs this production, poignantly places the prisoners in cells centre stage. It is exciting to watch as the cells unfold and the prisoners sheepishly crawl out.

Fidelio is a simple love story that will always be relevant, Opera Holland Park do justice to the drama and to Beethoven’s stunning score.

Book tickets for Opera Holland Park here.

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