For the true meaning of heroism expressed in some of the noblest music ever composed, look to Fidelio. Beethoven’s only opera is a testament to the human spirit and a test of musical skill and endurance, posing magnificent challenges for soloists, chorus and orchestra. The story is of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan and his steadfast wife Leonore, who secretly battles a corrupt political regime to win his release. Fidelio finds the super-hero in all of us. Returning to Santa Fe to sing Leonore in this production is the soprano Alex Penda (formerly Alexandrina Pendatchanska), who impressed in our productions of Rossini’s Ermione (2000) and Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito (2002) – and also earned two Grammy nominations in 2006. The tenor Paul Groves, who sang Gualtiero in our 2011 Griselda and the title role in our 2010 production of The Tales of Hoffmann, portrays Florestan. Stephen Wadsworth, who directed King Roger in 2012, returns to mount this production. On the podium, Harry Bicket leads his first production as Santa Fe’s new Chief Conductor.
8:30 pm July 12, 16, 25,
8:00 pm July 31; August 5, 12, 21
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
Librettist Joseph Sonnleithner
Sung in German
The nobleman Florestan has gone missing, and his wife Leonore believes his enemy Pizarro is holding him captive as a political prisoner.
Marzelline, Rocco’s daughter, struggles with Jaquino, her former boyfriend and a prison employee, who still loves her. She has fallen in love with “Fidelio”, whose meticulous work has gained Rocco’s admiration, and Rocco pushes for their engagement, setting a wedding date after Pizarro’s imminent visit. Rocco, considering their bleak surroundings, says that it will take more than love to make a go of it—money must be made. Leonore asks if she might help Rocco with the secret prisoners, and he agrees to ask Pizarro’s permission, as this work is taking a toll on him. Talk turns to one particular prisoner, who Rocco says has been there two years and is near death. Leonore senses that this might be Florestan.
Pizarro arrives, orders soldiers to watch the road, and reads his dispatches. Among them is a letter alerting him to the imminent arrival of his commanding officer, Fernando, and urging him to dispose of prisoners who pose a threat to his safety. Pizarro orders Rocco to dig a grave in one particular cell, where he himself will murder the prisoner. Leonore summons courage and hope to face off her enemy and reach her husband, then learns from Rocco that Pizarro will allow her to help Rocco with the secret prisoner. She encourages Rocco to let the prisoners into the courtyard for some air. Rocco complies, incurring the stunned gratitude of the prisoners but also Pizarro’s rage.
Florestan, chained in a dungeon, struggles with his fate and imagines Leonore appearing to save him or to take him to heaven. Rocco and Leonore enter and begin to dig Florestan’s grave, and Leonore soon recognizes her husband. Rocco, touched by Florestan’s physical and emotional condition, and by his grim fate, warily allows him a sip of wine before Pizarro arrives, knife in hand. As Pizarro attacks Florestan, Leonore steps between them, pointing a gun at Pizarro and revealing her true identity. Trumpets announce the arrival of Pizarro’s commander and troops, Jaquino brings help, and Pizarro is led away. Leonore and Florestan embrace.
Fernando has liberated the prison. The prisoners celebrate: “Justice and mercy have appeared at the edge of our grave.” Fernando also greets Florestan, whom he thought dead, and learns the truth. Pizarro is taken away, and Fernando asks Leonore to unlock Florestan’s chains, a tribute to her heroism, which is hailed by the crowd.
- Leonore - Alex Penda
- Florestan - Paul Groves
- Don Pizarro - Greer Grimsley
- Rocco - Manfred Hemm
- Marzelline - Devon Guthrie
- Don Fernando - Evan Hughes
- Jaquino - Joshua Dennis
- Conductor - Harry Bicket
- Director - Stephen Wadsworth
- Scenic Designer - Charles Corcoran
- Costume Designer - Camille Assaf
- Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler
- Chorus Master - Susanne Sheston