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Beethoven:  Fidelio
Beethoven, Herbert von Karajan, Vienna State Opera Chorus & Orchestra
Beethoven: Fidelio
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #2

The first official release of a legendary performance that marked Christa Ludwig's debut in a signature role.


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The first official release of a legendary performance that marked Christa Ludwig's debut in a signature role.

CD Reviews

This recording is NOT Jon Vickers!!!!!!!!!!
Ken Vickers | Bermuda | 10/31/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Jon Vickers is my father. I have heard him sing the role of Florestan in Beethoven's opera Fidelio, over fifty times: Performances at Covent Garden, the Metropolitan, the Salzburg Festival, the Chicago Lyric, and at the Orange Festival in France to name a few. I know this opera intimately and have heard him sing when "indisposed," ( as is claimed in the liner notes of this release ) when healthy and when extremely ill. The tenor singing Florestan in the latest Deutshe Grammophon release of Beethoven's Fidelio, in conjunction with the Wienerstaatsoper, is quite simply, NOT Jon Vickers.

My father's diction, his strict adherence to the composer's markings, his spectacular use of dynamic range and the unmistakable timbre of his voice is easily recognizable. The timbre, the expression on every vowel and consonant in each phrase of Florestan's aria on this recording are foreign to me? For that matter, so is the shape of each phrase in turn, if you compare it to any other recording of my father singing this role? ( I have over ten live copies of variuos performance on disc as well as his two EMI studio recordings, one made with Karajan, the other Klemperer. ) Even more telling, perhaps, is the spoken dialogue. The inflection in the voice on every spoken word is completely different from my father's, whether "indisposed" or not? This opinion is also shared by my four siblings, who immediately recognised that this recording is not of our father.

I have also consulted among the most knowledgeable of my father's voice since this recording was released, including singers who appeared with him in this opera in various performances around the world. They overwhelmingly agree with the opinion that the tenor in this live performance released under the pretence that it was, and is, my father, Jon Vickers, is undoubtedly not correct.

Milan Simich | 07/01/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I've only listened to a few excerpts but that is not Jon Vickers singing Florestan. It might be Hans Beirer who was a regular at vienna and sang everything from otello to tristan and Florestan."
Magnificent Historical Performance
I. Martinez-Ybor | Miami, FL USA | 06/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Up to now, there were two performances of Fidelio I would not do without: Furtwangler's from Salzburg with Flagstad and Patzak (1950) and Klemperer's commercial recording with Ludwig and Vickers (recorded in early 1962, already in stereo). To these, I will now add the present recording, a live performance from the Wiener Staatsoper, 25 May 1962 conducted by H.v.Karajan also with Christa Ludwig and Jon Vickers.

Karajan's tempos are brisker than Klemperer's but the performance is, if anything, more intense and dramatic, helped by the frisson of it being not only a single live performance, but the first undertaking by Ludwig of Leonore's role on any stage. And what a splendid performance it is! The amplitude of the voice is astounding, it is even, creamy, powerful all the way up through its treacherous scale; the projection is intense and theatrical in her inimitable way. In her memoirs Ludwig admits that she was never comfortable in the role, indeed she was afraid of it because it is a truly soprano part and she felt that it laid too high for her voice. Her reservations indeed were real for she hardly sang the role on stage (I think New York saw it only for one Met performance substituting for a cancelled Nilsson Elektra). Whatever the tessitura, she mastered the part and sang it with drama, musicality and bravura. This performance indeed is wonderful testimony to her artistry. Jon Vickers was capable of more light and shade, indeed suavity, than is evidenced here. Nonetheless he is always powerful, intense, and a magnificent presence. One of the joys of this performance is Gundula Janowitz's Marzelline, also her debut in the part. This role is usually assigned by opera houses to resident soubrettes so as a rule it is undersung, her wonderful lines in ensemble getting lost under everybody else's voices. Not here. Janowitz was probably about twenty-four at the time of this performance, but the voice, bright, silvery and shining, was already substantial and soars, all the beautiful qualities for which it would later become famous were already in place. Indeed we are listening here to a future Leonore! Walter Berry, Waldemar Kmentt, all others are superb.

The performance was recorded by Austrian radio in mono. The tapes have been cleaned, probably equalized, but the sound remains somewhat constricted. Nonetheless, this recording is strongly recommended, and is indispensible for all Christa Ludwig fans."