1280x680_Oper_Konzertant_1516 © beyond/Mara Burmester

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Nikolaus Harnoncourt congratulates the Theater an der Wien on its 10th anniversary as a new opera house with a concert performance of Fidelio, the most important opera associated with this theatre. Commissioned by the management of the Theater an der Wien, both the first version (1805) and the second (1806) received their premieres here. A second significant occasion that links Beethoven’s only opera with the Theater an der Wien was the resumption of performances by the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera here in October 1945 – 140 years after Fidelio had been heard here for the first time. The Theater an der Wien was chosen as the venue because the State Opera had been destroyed in the war. In Beethoven’s opera, Leonore, disguised as a man and going under the suggestive alias “Fidelio”, wins the confidence of the gaoler Rocco in whose prison she believes her missing husband Florestan is being held as a political prisoner. When Florestan’s adversary, the governor Pizarro, orders his secret murder, Leonore is able to prevent it at the last moment.