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Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, features as the highlight of the Salzburg Festival: the stirring work centred around Leonore, who frees her incarcerated spouse Fidelio from prison, is timelessly relevant with powerful emotional situations and jarringly human pleas of anguish from Leonore: “Whoever you are, I want to rescue you. By God! You shall not be a victim!”

Director Claus Guth, renowned for his profound interpretations of opera, replaces the spoken dialogue with menacing sounds, doubling Leonore with a deaf, signing actress. The result is a splendidly staged, new and deeply touching picture of the masterpiece, ending in the breakdown of the hugely traumatized character, Florestan, to the accompaniment of exaltant music.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra delivers an intensely enthralling orchestral sound, supported by the concert association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus under Franz Welser-Möst to accompany a star-studded cast including the two principal characters played by Adrianne Pieczonka and Jonas Kaufmann. The New York Times reported: “the conductor Franz Welser-Möst won a huge ovation, along with the excellent singers, especially the two leads. They are the astonishing tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who makes a wrenching, haunted Florestan, and the compelling, bright-voiced soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Leonore”. The hitherto unachieved utopian vision of justice, fraternity, and liberty shines eternal.

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