"I think this recording is under-rated. It shows how influential reviewers from Grammophone and Penguin can be. I think this is a fabulous performance. Behrens may not be the best of Leonores - she is definitely not in the league of Christa Ludwig, Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek or Jessye Norman - but hey, we are comparing her with the best of the best Leonores. In fact, she sings with keen dramatic sense and involvement, and her top notes are superb. Pizzaro is outstanding in this set, sung with biting malevolence. Florestan here may not be Jon Vickers but i think his performance is very good nonetheless.I like Solti's reading which is brisk and urgent - more in the Fricsay mould. In addition, the Chicago players and Chicago chorus surpass the orchestras and choruses in the other recordings, although vocally, the other recordings are superior."
Abel | 10/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Solti is reputedly one of the the greatest conductor in the world, in the class of superconductors league with Bernstein and Karajan.This Fidelio is excellently prepared and excellently recorded. behrens is a very involved Fidelio and she sings her parts fabulously. The cast is excellent and so is the orchestral playing. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is arguably the best orchestra in the world and the CHicago Symphony Chorus has won more Grammys than any other Symphony Choruses. The Celebrated Solti-CSO partnership presenting Beethoven's one and only celebrated opera. A performance not to be missed. Buy it!!! Recommended without any reservations."
You Always Remember Your First....
Edward R. Oneill | San Francisco, CA | 02/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Opera, that is.
This was my first recording of a complete opera, not just excerpts. I'd heard scenes from Fidelio with Patzak, and when I found this CD for a great price, I bought it and listened to it endlessly. (We're talking 20-plus years ago now.)
Lately, I've been shopping for another recording of Fidelio. I've overcome my allergy to poor sound, my fetishization of digital clarity, and become a fan of live, historical recordings.
But I must say: the live recordings I've heard excerpts of thus far--Furtwangler, for instance--have left me cold.
They sound so dry and lightweight and pedantic--Mozart without charm.
So this recording, which was my first, may be bad in some people's minds, but it still rates with me.
Yes Hoffman became wrecked his voice and became a joke by croaking 'Nights in White Satin' over a studio orchestra.
Yes, Behrens is not Flagstad or Nilsson. But this recording is both driving and lyrical. The balance and integration of voices with orchestra is excellent. And Solti conducts with his typical musicality and oomph.
Not owning lots of recordings of this opera, I still like the one I have.
And I add these comments NOT to justify my preferences but rather to underline how irrational some of these attachments are.
Once, shopping for a Four Seasons, I listened to excerpts from some 20 recordings and found the one I had before was still my favorite. We imprint on these things!
So my advice is: ignore everyone's advice and buy what you enjoy!
--E. R. O'Neill
An alternative reading of Beethoven's only opera.
Abel | Hong Kong | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I give it 5 stars for two reasons - first, Theo Adam's Pizarro; second, Behrens' Leonora. Theo Adam is simply electrifying as the verminous Don Pizarro. He is really hard to beat in this role. Too many people compared Hildegard's portrayal of Fidelio with Ludwig, Jurinac, and lately, Mattila. Well, Behrens offers a more lyrical rendition, so does her partner Peter Hofmann as Don Florestan. If one tends to look at this couple as superhumans, I have nothing more to say. But they aren't, though their bond and 'fidelity'(hence the title of the opera) to each other is noble and uplifting. To cast them as superhumans would miss all the frailty and struggles that this couple has to go through in the main storyline. Hence I do not buy in the casting of 'big voices' in Florestan's role. Peter Hofmann, being chosen by Solti even before he did his recordings of Parsifal for Karajan and Tristan for Bernstein, is fully convincing as a dying prisoner savagely treated by a monster-like Pizarro. He evokes successfully the image of a severely wronged upright gentleman, being beaten to the point of near-death. Behrens, as his wife, effectively brings out the feminity and astounding inner strength of Leonora, a noblewoman nonetheless, even though garbed as a young man. I don't have to tell you how much I detest the much more recent DVD on the same opera who put Karita Mattila in a more than masculine look as the heroine. "