This is the other recording of 'Fidelio' that I recommend for customers who are interested in the opera, as well as Karajan's EMI recording. They're both on the same opera series and not too expensive on the Amazon Marketplace or to download. Again Jon Vickers is a magnificent singer for Florestan's roles because his mighty and powerful voice just suits Florestan's roles. Klemperer's interpretation is extremely passionate. Christa Ludwig's a very fine Leonore. Although Walter Berry's voice doesn't sound evil, the way he sings Don Pizarro's roles still works.
I have multiple versions of the great operatic works and I thought that it might be helpful if I posted my thoughts on my favourite recordings.
Otto Klemperer's "Fidelio" has for many years been hailed as the definitive recording of Beethoven's only opera and although there are a great many estimable versions out there, including Klemperer's own "live" recording from Covent Garden from around the same time, I would wholeheartedly concur with this accolade.
Everything here, to my ears at any rate, is well nigh perfect. The recording, even though it was made over 50 years ago, is excellent and Walter Legge's hand-picked orchestra play beautifully for Klemperer who, of course, displays an absolute affinity for Beethoven's music.
The dialogue is delivered with total conviction (Legge's wife, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, apparently voiced Marzelline), but it is the singing of the all-star cast which will attract many purchasers.
For me, pride of place has to go to the Canadian tenor Jon Vickers. It is not the most conventionally beautiful of voices, but he sings with searing intensity and his performance of Florestan's great aria which opens the second act is unbearably moving. The role of Leonore is customarily the preserve of dramatic sopranos, but it is here taken by a mezzo, Christa Ludwig. She essayed other soprano roles (the Marschallin, Donna Elvira) with varying degrees of success, but she is quite wonderful here and her top notes (as is often the case with mezzos) are absolutely gleaming. The great German bass Gottlob Frick deployed his cavernous voice to considerable effect on more than one "Fidelio" recording and he is on top form here; his splendidly sepulchral speaking voice almost gives as much pleasure as his magnificent singing (listen to how he hones down his huge voice for his pianissimo entry in the canon quartet). Water Berry...a Papageno, for goodness sake...is perhaps unexpected casting as the hateful Pizarro, but he sings with impressive bite and spits out his dialogue with relish. Ingeborg Hallstein and Gerhard Unger are well in the picture as Marzelline and Jaquino, while Franz Crass is as sonorous a Don Fernando as any on record.
You will struggle to find a better played or more evenly cast version of this opera; try to pick it up cheaply.