[Met Performance] CID:260170

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, January 14, 1980

Debut : Franz Ferdinand Nentwig

Fidelio (150)
Ludwig van Beethoven | Joseph Sonnleithner
Hildegard Behrens

Jon Vickers

Don Pizarro
Franz Ferdinand Nentwig [Debut]

Paul Plishka

Catherine Malfitano

Jon Garrison

Don Fernando
Julien Robbins

First Prisoner
Timothy Jenkins

Second Prisoner
Arthur Thompson

Erich Leinsdorf

Otto Schenk

Boris Aronson

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Stage Director
David Alden

Fidelio received eight performances this season.

Revival a gift of the Panwy Foundation

Review 1:

Review of Speight Jenkins in The New York Post

A splendid production of 'Fidelio' at the Met

Tyrants never learn the lesson of "Fidelio," Beethoven's testament to freedom and to their demise, a fact brought home last night at the Metropolitan Opera when one remembered our hostages in Iran.

The 1970 Otto Schenk production (realized in this revival by David Alden), with sets by Boris Aronson, particularly emphasizes the work's timelessness and reality. The prison courtyard looks so grim; the dungeon a nightmare of loneliness and the brilliantly lit finale a symbol of the joy of liberty.

And certainly the acting last night was splendid. In few opera performances does no one find so many of the principals carrying out their roles with such intensity.

That Hildegard Behrens could be so appealing in the title role testifies to her astonishing charisma. It's hard to imagine a part less suitable for a seven-month pregnant woman, but she transcended all.

Virtually every note was in place and her pregnancy told only in a little less volume and a shade less breath than when she sang Leonore here last season.

Her lyric voice falls outside the tradition of dramatic sopranos in the part. But her even accuracy throughout the range and her overwhelmingly complete performance silence reservations.

When her energy collided with that of Jon Vickers, sparks had to fly, and the tenor was in rare form. To hear that great voice roll out, by turns heroic and lyric, makes almost unimaginable that his first great Met success as Florestan came 20 years ago (Jan. 26, 1960). His vocal expression of the totality of the character has never been less than extraordinary if not unique.

Franz Ferdinand Nentwig made his debut as Pizarro, disclosing a medium-sized baritone of indeterminate color with good production. In other parts he might make more impression.

An unusually striking Marzelline came from Catherine Malfitano, whose strong lyric soprano - the right weight for the part - sounded radiant. She was superbly partnered by John Garrison's fresh, spunky Jacquino. Paul Plishka sang Rocco richly and effectively.

Erich Leinsdorf, who conducted straightforwardly, set out to eliminate most of the opportunities for applause by blending one selection into the next and connecting the Leonore Overture No. 3 to the [beginning] chorus of the finale. The idea added a lot to the tension and flow of the work.

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