Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, which took him 10 years of his life to complete and which he revised a number of times, is a tour de force in several respects. Firstly, it is considered one of the archetypal operas devoted to the theme of liberty. The main female character, Leonore, is one of the great heroines of the operatic canon, disguising herself as a man and penetrating a prison to free her unjustly jailed husband, Florestan. And yet the work manages to this day to fend off simple black-and-white interpretations, despite regular efforts by commentators to harness the opera and its protagonists for partisan purposes. The idealistic, humanist appeal in Beethoven’s music is universal and defies categorical unambiguity.
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Secondly, Beethoven pulled off the first-ever specifically German opera. His fusion of rescue opera, humanist oratorio and melodrama for the burghers went on to serve as a model for what a German romantic opera might be.
This rendition of Beethoven’s masterpiece is largely a collaboration between David Hermann, whose past association with the Deutsche Oper Berlin spans works as varied as THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, ORESTE and THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR, and the stage and set designer Johannes Schütz. This is the second time the pair have worked together on a »prison piece«. Following their production of Janácek’s FROM THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD at the Oper Frankfurt they now return to the themes of liberty and imprisonment and issues relating to power, powerlessness and manipulation.