Metropolitan Opera 2016-17 Preview: ‘Fidelio’s’ Historical Moments At The Met

By David Salazar

Fidelio opens at the Metropolitan on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Being Beethoven’s only opera, it has been given great prominence at the Metropolitan Opera, to the tune of 230 performances. Here are some other fun facts about the opera over the course of its Met Opera history.

1. The opera’s very first performance was on Nov. 19, 1884, and featured a cast that included Marianne Brandt and Anton Schott with Leopold Damrosch in the pit.

2. The opera was performed every single year at the Met from 1884 through 1892.

3. The opera was not performed between 1918-1926, its longest absence from the Met throughout the company’s history. The opera was also ignored between 1952-1959.

4. Sir Bruno Walter made his Met Opera debut conducting this opera on Valentine’s Day 1941.

5. James King recorded the opera nine times, more than any other tenor around. He made his Met debut in the role on Jan. 8, 1966 alongside Birgit Nilsson. He sang the work 12 times at the Met, his last performance coming on Oct. 28, 1978.

6. Jon Vickers is one of the greatest exponents of the opera in history. He recorded the opera seven times throughout his career. He also appeared at the Met 39 times in the opera between 1960 and 1984.

7.  Christa Ludwig, who recorded the opera four times in her career, only sang it once at the Met. The day was Feb. 23, 1971, and her tenor was Vickers.

8. The Met celebrated the 200th birthday of Beethoven during the 1970-71 season by showcasing the opera 16 times during the season.

9. Met Opera Artistic Director Emeritus James Levine conducted the work 11 times during the 2000-01 season, the only time he has taken on the work at the Met. One performance from that run has been recorded and released on DVD.

10. Before this season’s run, the last time the opera was performed was on April 13, 2006, with a cast featuring Erika Sunnegardh, Richard Margison, Alan Held, Kristinn Sigmundsson and James Morris among others. Paul Nadler was the conductor.

11. This year’s cast includes Adrianne Pieczonka as Leonore, Klaus Florian Vogt as Florestan, Greer Grimsley as Don Pizarro, Falk Struckmann as Rocco and David Portillo as Jaquino among others. Sebastian Weigle will conduct. The runs lasts seven performances, ending on April 8, 2017.

***This article has been altered from its original form. A previous version mistakenly stated that Vickers only sang the opera six times when he had, in fact, sang it 39. The previous version was also mistaken in the number of times James King performed the opera at the Met. This version also includes information regarding Christa Ludwig’s history with the opera at the Met and the 200th birthday celebration for Beethoven.