Jürgen Flimm (stage director), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor) — With Jonas Kaufmann (Florestan), Camilla Nylund (Leonore), Günther Groissböck (Don Fernando), Alfred Muff (Don Pizarro) ...
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Jürgen Flimm — Stage director
Rolf Glittenberg — Set designer
Marianne Glittenberg — Costumes
Jakob Schlossstein — Lighting
Camilla Nylund — Leonore
Jonas Kaufmann — Florestan
Alfred Muff — Don Pizarro
László Pólgár — Rocco
Elizabeth Rae Magnuson — Marzelline
Christoph Strehl — Jaquino
Günther Groissböck — Don Fernando
Bogusław Bidziński — First Prisoner
Gabriel Bermúdez — Second Prisoner
Zurich Opera Chorus
Ernst Raffelsberger — Chorus Master
This stellar production of Beethoven's Fidelio—the sole opera by the universally beloved composer born 250 years ago—stands out from the pack. First, it features a young Jonas Kaufmann in 2004, near the beginning of his meteoric rise to superstardom thanks to the qualities already on full display here: a dark and stentorian tenor voice, remarkable acting capacities, and a seemingly effortless expressiveness that make him a perfect fit for the iconic roles he would go on to embody, not least of which is Florestan.
But even the greatest soloist cannot make an opera work on his own—and the unique alchemy here between Jürgen Flimm's minimalist staging and Nikolaus Harnoncourt's expert musical approach focuses the drama's power on the ineffable power of love, rather than just on philosophy or politics. Fidelio tells the story of Leonora (soprano Camilla Nylund, in one of the roles that launched her to international success like Kaufmann), who disguises herself as a man (Fidelio, "faithful one”), to rescue her husband (Florestan), unjustly imprisoned by his enemy Pizarro (here, a powerful Alfred Muff) and guarded by the warden Rocco (a worthy László Pólgár). Fittingly, the original title of the opera was Leonore, or The Triumph of Marital Love...