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Beethoven: Fidelio

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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  • Performer: Helga Dernesch, Jon Vickers, Zoltan Kélémen, Karl Ridderbusch
  • Orchestra: Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (14 Mar. 1988)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B00000DOIJ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,687 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

DERNESCH / VICKERS / VAN DAM /

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Format: Audio CD
This is the most beautifully played Fidelio of all, with the Berlin orchestra's superb sound well forward. Karajan is intensely dramatic, and if (as his critics claim) occasionally mannered, what of it? So are most other co0nductors of stature. This is a simply superb reading with a good and sometimes great (ie Vickers) cast. You will hear more of Beethoven's wonderful orchestral textures in this reading than anywhere else.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with Klemperer's 26 Mar. 2010
By Peter M. Rossetti - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This and Klemperer's version are the best recordings of this opera. Karajan's version is just a little faster but extremely intense and exciting. Every time I listen to it I am limp and trembling from the intensity of the emotions. The singing and orchestra are magnificent.I totally agree with the Penguin guide that this and Klemp's are the ones to own. Buy it---goosebumps are guaranteed!!!!!!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Has everything! 5 July 2014
By david - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Has Everything, 8 Jan 2013

Of the three or four EMI Salzburg productions recorded by Karajan in the 1970s, with a new producer (and pot of money) Michael Glotz, this Fidelio (the others were Salome and Tristan and Isolde) to my mind is the only all round success. And all round is the key to why I admire this recording so much. It wins on every count.

All the singers acquit themselves well in roles well suited to their vocal qualities. They can all sing dramatically with great expressiveness in the three key roles. While there is a great deal of competition in the role of Leonore, and it will always come down to personal preference for favourite sopranos, I feel Helga Dernesch is the equal of any in this recording. She is in her prime and the voice soars. And who else has ever managed to combine such vocal power with an expression of vulnerability and jangled nerves in the great "Abscheulicher!" central aria? Ridderbusch is in his element as a basso profondo as Rocco. Kelemen though an already seasoned performer invests the evil Pizarro with venom and dark voiced strength to spare. It may say a lot about me, but this is my favourite character in the opera, and Kelemen is the absolute embodiment of a terrorising frightening monster of a tin pot dictator you would never want to meet. The best sung on record. Vickers sings his heart out as the heroic Florestan. I think his singing here, as with Dernesch over Ludwig (who does not quite have the top notes, as a mezzo, and thereby emotional impact) is in freer and more beautiful voice than in the earlier Klemperer set. The best sung Florestan on record. His voice is absolutely right for the character and he meets the challenge of his murderous introductory aria without strain. All of this is top notch, but even the secondary and minor roles in this performance benefit from superbly clear singing and characterisation, Laubenthal and Donath are just right, with their terse exchanges and clipped expression, as the immature limited outlook bfs; van Dam is comfortable in his role as the Minister with proclamations from high, with his rich fruity baritone, flying in at the last minute to save the day! The most convincing Minister on record. Then there is the prisoners' chorus scene which is executed and sung with such feeling and perfection it will bring tears to the eyes. The best sung on record. Karajan adopts just the right tempo here, reliable as he is throughout the opera allowing each tableau or scene to breathe and unfold its musical treasures.

The recording balance is superb. The orchestral playing - we are talking about the Berlin Philharmonic and Karajan in their heyday - is superb and again finely controled by the maestro in the service of the drama and singers. The ensembles are perfectly sung with voices blending in a way that can only have emerged from the luxury of adequate rehearsal time which only Karajan could command in his recording projects. Overall, this production and recording is light years ahead of any other recorded version.

And this is key to why it is so good:
the recording is based on a real theatre production with the self same singers and team. It shows.

Bernstein, Bohm, Klemperer are all "good" for one or two reasons.

But why bother with them when you can get this, that satisfies on every count?

Unmissable for all Beethovians and opera lovers. Who thinks this recording/performance is poor?
17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor 29 Aug. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Quite frankly, this is one of the worst "good" opera sets I have come across. This set had the potential to be a good set but the engineers ruined everything. The musical side of things is not so bad. Jon Vicker's Florestan is magnificent, few if any, better. The problem lies with Leonore. Helga Dernesch is unable to handle the role. The high notes tax her mercilessly and she does not have the vocal heft to cut through the orchestra in the dungeon quartet scene. This is where the problem comes in. Because she does not have the vocal power to cut through the orchestra, it is very obvious that the engineers recorded her voice separately and superimpose it on top. This results in a very weird sound. It is very very obvious that Jon Vickers, the orchestra and Pizzaro are in one room and Helga Dernesch is singing in a different room with a completely different acoustic. The sound is especially evident and horrible if you listen using earphones. Which is sad because Karajan's conducting is not bad and Helga Dernesch, even though the top notes tax her too much, sounds pretty OK. I like Karajan's "live" 1962 Trovatore, "live" 1964 Die Frau but sorry, this set is lousy. Before you buy this set, make sure you buy the magnificent Klemperer set, which is at the top of the list. If you need a second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth version, go for Kleiber with Birgit Nilsson, Haitink with Jessye Norman or Halasz on Maxos with Nielsen or Fricsay with Leonie Rysanek or Maazel with Birgit Nilsson. If you need a seventh or eighth version, go for Bernstein with the lovely Janowitz or Solti with Hildegard Behrens. If you need a ninth or tenth version, go for Furtwangler with Kirsten Flagstad (mono) or Bernstein with Birgit Nilsson (Mono). If you need an eleventh version go for Bohm with Christa Ludwig (1968 Salzburg) or Bohm with Gwyneth Jones. Quite frankly, this Fidelio comes right at the bottom of my list - all because of the engineers.
If you are a Karajan fan and want to sample his magnificent opera conducting, go for his earlier "live" sets like his 1962 Trovatore, his 1964 "live" Die Frau, his 1956 EMI Rosenkavalier, his 1956 EMI Falstaff - those were great classics. This set is a huge disappointment. I got a brand new set for just nine dollars, by the way.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Delivered different package design 25 Feb. 2014
By abc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, I wanted the package design shown here. However, I received different one which I already have. Can Amazon replace it to the shown package design ?
Rating only 1 star is coming from the reason.
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