Beethoven’s Leonore – a landmark performance

Beethoven Leonore

Leonore…..Hillevi Martinpelto (soprano)
Florestan…..Kim Begley (tenor)
Rocco…..Franz Hawlata (bass)
Marzelline…..Christiane Oelze (soprano)
Jaquino…..Michael Schade (tenor)
Don Pizarro…..Matthew Best (bass)
Don Fernando…..Geert Smits (baritone)
First Prisoner…..Robert Burt (tenor)
Second Prisoner…..Colin Campbell (baritone)

Monteverdi Choir
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Sir John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)


Beethoven’s only opera is a passionate musical protest against political oppression that also celebrates the power of human love. This performance from 1996 of the opera’s first version (it was later revised as Fidelio) was only its second ever at the Proms, and the first featuring period instruments. Sir John Eliot Gardiner favoured this earlier version of the work, conceived at a time when Beethoven was fired up by the ideals of Napoleon and the social fragmentation of society in the wake of the French Revolution. This performance came soon after the experience of recording all of Beethoven’s symphonies with his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. The period instruments, he said, gave the music ‘greater transparency of texture, more sharply differentiated character of the instruments and an almost visceral struggle with the musical material.’

Read Past Reviews on the Classical Source

This performance was taken from the BBC Proms in 1996 – three years before the Classical Source was born.

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