Beethoven's Only Opera

  • Saturday, October 17th - 8:00 pm
  • Thursday, October 22nd - 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, October 25th - 2:00 pm


The fact that Fidelio is the great Beethoven’s only opera is unique enough.  How do you make it even more fresh and meaningful?  By setting it behind the Berlin Wall in the days leading up to its ultimate fall in 1989.  Fidelio is a rousing tale of undying love, a love that not only glimmers through the darkness of oppression, but one that radiates once liberated.

Act I

Marzelline, Rocco’s daughter, rejects the attentions of one of the guards, Chris Geuffroy, who hopes to marry her.  Her heart is now set on her father’s new assistant, Fidelio, who is distressed by Marzelline's interest, particularly because it has the blessing of Rocco.  When Rocco mentions a man lying near death in solitary confinement, Leonore, suspecting it might be Wismach, begs him to take her on his rounds.  He agrees, though the warden Ulbricht has left strict instructions that only Rocco is to see the prisoner in solitary confinement.

Head of Stasi Security, Ulbricht learns that the Minister is on his way to inspect the prison.  He has been holding Wismach in secret, and at this news he resolves to kill Wismach without delay.  He orders Rocco to dig a grave for the victim in the lowest part of the prison.  Leonore, overhearing his plan, realizes the imminent danger.  She again begs Rocco to let her accompany him to the condemned man's cell - and also to allow the prisoners a few moments of air in the courtyard.  He agrees.  The prisoners relish their glimpse of freedom but are ordered back by Ulbricht, who hurries Rocco off to dig Wismach’s grave.  Leonore follows him into the lower sections of the prison.


Act II

In solitary confinement, Kurt Wismach dreams his wife Leonore has been sent as an angel, to free him.  Rocco and Leonore arrive and begin digging the grave.  Wismach awakens, not recognizing his wife, and Leonore almost loses her composure at the familiar sound of his voice.  Wismach begs Rocco to give him a drink, and Leonore gives him a bit of bread, urging him not to lose faith.  Rocco then blows on his whistle to signal Ulbricht that all is ready.  Ulbricht advances with dagger drawn to strike, but Leonore stops him.  Just then, a signal is heard which announces the arrival of the Minister.  Ulbricht’s attempt to cover up the death of Wismach have failed, and he and Rocco leave to meet the Minister, leaving Leonore and Wismach to rejoice in each other's arms.

In the prison courtyard, the Minister is indeed Walter Momper, Mayor of West Germany and soon to be Mayor of a united Berlin, who proclaims the Wall separating West from East is falling, and justice will be given the prisoners.  He is amazed when Rocco brings his boyhood friend Wismach before him and relates the details of Leonore's heroism.  Ulbricht is arrested, and Leonore herself removes her husband's chains. The other prisoners are freed as the Berlin Wall falls.