Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven, October 2018


Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Libretto by Joseph von Sonnleithner, revised in 1806 by Stephan von Breuning and in 1814 by Georg Friedrich Treitschke, after Jean-Nicolas Bouilly's Léonore, ou L'amour conjugal (Leonora, or Married Love).

October 11, 13, 19, 2018, 8 pm
Wednesday, October 17, at 7 pm
Sunday, October 21, at 2:30 pm

The Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.

Sung in German , with English surtitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, including one intermission
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain

Video Trailer
Media / Reviews
Cast and Creative Team

Video / Musical Selections
Keynotes Newsletter / PDF


A woman risks everything to rescue her husband, a political prisoner.

Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio tells a story as eternal as tyranny and as powerful as love. It goes straight to the heart of what it means to be human.

A timeless call for human justice, this magnificent work expresses Beethoven's heartfelt sense of the fragility of freedom and the necessity of hope – all with music of heart-stopping beauty.



  • Fidelio as a mirror of human rights
    Melissa Ratcliffe reviews Fidelio for Schmopera.

    Peter McGillivray as Pizarro portrayed his character's pettiness and cruelty with aplomb ... so well that he was met with a rousing chorus of boos at the curtain call – well-deserved and for all the right reasons!

    Tenor Brent Reilly Turner was a force of nature as Florestan. Remarkably strong and dynamic in vocal performance, his moment in prison of chasing a single beam of light across his cell was heartbreaking.

    The POV Chorus, portraying prisoners let out to their prison yard for a small moment of sunshine, were artfully bleak and unsettling. Recoiling from touch, light, and the slightest threat of punishment, they effectively communicated a profound sense of hopelessness. With acting skills matched by their formidable vocal performance, the Chorus conveyed the pathos of the prisoners' lot movingly.
    Read more.

  • Pacific Opera Victoria's Fidelio
    Robin Miller reviews Fidelio for Opera Canada.

    Pacific Opera Victoria's season-opening production of Beethoven's Fidelio is musically magnificent. From minor roles to major, the voices are superb, and the Pacific Opera Chorus – mostly young, all volunteer – is impressive. The Victoria Symphony, too, played with verve and conviction...

    Unleashing a rich and powerful voice, Fortunata dispatched her big Act I aria ... enormously demanding in its sustained phrases, with ease and control. And throughout the rest of the difficult opera, her voice retained its beauty and suppleness, soaring to the rafters when required. ..

    Bass Valerian Ruminski provided a calm port in the whirlwind of Beethoven's music, with his natural and affecting portrayal of prison warden Rocco as an essentially decent man caught between achieving justice for others and his own survival. Soprano Miriam Khalil brought brightness and sparkle to the role of Rocco's daughter Marzelline.
    Read more.

  • Pacific Opera Victoria's Fidelio visually arresting, musically elevated
    Kevin Bazzana of the Times Colonist reviews Fidelio.

    Director Wim Trompert, working with set and costume designer Nancy Bryant, offers a convincing and appropriate modern-dress concept and staging that is thoughtful, but unfussy. Bryant's striking-looking triangular set ... opens up several times to splendid effect – for instance, for the moving chorus of prisoners...

    Aviva Fortunata ... a real powerhouse ... is well matched with tenor Brent Reilly Turner, who renders the imprisoned Florestan's Act 2 aria (God! What darkness here!) with impressive passion and power ... When husband and wife finally reunite ... we hear a veritable explosion of ardent lyricism...

    The Victoria Symphony, conducted by POV's artistic director, Timothy Vernon, plays with extraordinary colour and fervour, and underscores the music's heroism... Vernon injects much energy and momentum into the performance (the Act 2 climaxes are thrilling), but also takes time generously to allow for a wealth of nuance.
    Read more.

  • Check the Program
    Review of Fidelio by Check the Program.

    Pacific Opera Victoria's season opener Fidelio is worth the ticket price just to be blown away by leading lady (and man) soprano Aviva Fortunata...
    Fortunata not only has the greatest opera name of all time, she carries a piercing and powerful voice to match...
    Soprano Miriam Khalil sings the part of Marzelline beautifully and has a refreshing physical ease on stage. Tenor Brent Reilly Turner was gripping in the emotional role of the prisoner Florestan.
    Read more.

  • Beethoven's Fidelio is as relevant as ever
    Mike Devlin of the Times Colonist discusses Fidelio, its themes, and its glorious music with soprano Aviva Fortunata and conductor Timothy Vernon.

    Pacific Opera Victoria's season-opening performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's lone opera, Fidelio, could not have been better timed.
    Fidelio features recurring themes of freedom and injustice, which have become eerily prescient in the centuries since it was created ...

    Fortunata and [Brent] Turner join an esteemed cast and crew that includes director Wim Trompert for what Vernon calls a large-scale production. You need a big voice for this. Beethoven doesn't write for namby-pambies... It takes a certain kind of singer, most of them big-voiced, to produce the sound for this ... the music is so gripping.
    Vernon said Fortunata's technical control is rare and will allow her to tackle roles of almost every kind. Victoria audiences are lucky to have a singer of her power in the roles of Leonore and Fidelio...
    She is singing magnificently. That voice – she really is going to go somewhere ... She opens her mouth and out pours this glorious music.
    Read more.

  • Beethoven's freedom fight on display with new performance
    Katrina Brooke of Nexus previews Fidelio and interviews Artistic Director Timothy Vernon.

    Social justice meets opera with Pacific Opera Victoria's contemporary production of Beethoven's Fidelio...
    Bogotá-raised multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Monica Hernandez has joined with director Wim Trompert and designer Nancy Bryant to create an on-set memorial to resistance and freedom fighters that is extraordinarily expressive, says...Vernon. A projected screen will help create the backdrop ... streaming images and scenes haunted by shadows and stark reminders of the costs of war.

    Although oppression is one of the central themes of this piece, so too are the ideas of freedom and individual responsibilities. Surrounded by soldiers and prisoners, one woman leads the charge against tyranny, disguising herself as a man so she can enter the prison where her husband is a political prisoner sentenced to death.
    In lesser hands, it might be just a sappy rescue drama, says Vernon, but in Beethoven's hands, it becomes something monumental.
    Read more.

  • CTV Vancouver Island
    CTV's Adam Sawatsky shows a brief excerpt from Fidelio with short commentary from TImothy Vernon. The 45-second segment begins at 39:32 and features soprano Miriam Khalil, who plays the role of Marzelline in the opera.
    Watch (starts at 39:32).


Cast and Creative Team

WIth the Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Chorus



Below is the synopsis for Pacific Opera Victoria's production of Fidelio. The prologue and first part of Act 1 are changed slightly. In the original libretto, Marzelline, daughter of the jailer Rocco, falls in love with Fidelio, not realizing that "he" is Leonore, Florestan's wife, disguised as a young man. In this production, both Marzelline and Jaquino are resistance workers who have helped Leonore enter the prison. Marzelline and Fidelio pretend to be in love so that Marzalline's father Rocco will take on Fidelio, his prospective son-in-law as an apprentice and allow Fidelio access to the secret dungeons of the prison.


Leonore and her husband Florestan, a political activist, are at home. Suddenly the door is forced open and a group of soldiers violently take Florestan away. Leonore stays behind, desperate.

When nothing is heard about her husband, Leonore decides to act. Suspecting that Florestan is being held in a prison run by his enemy, the corrupt Pizarro, she asks for help from Don Fernando, a government minister and political friend of Florestan. Marzelline and Jaquino, two resistance workers who are employed in Pizarro's prison, secretly offer their assistance. They help Leonore enter the prison, disguised as a boy: Fidelio.

Act 1

A plan is needed to get Fidelio into the secret dungeons, for Rocco, the master of the prison – and Marzelline's father – keeps everyone out. Fidelio and Marzelline decide to act as if they are in love and ask Rocco's permission to marry. Rocco will surely allow his prospective son-in-law to help him with the heavy tasks in the dungeons. Marzelline convinces Rocco he is terribly overworked and needs the help.

Rocco tells Fidelio of a hidden dungeon where a single prisoner has been wasting away for two years. Both hoping and dreading that this might be Florestan, Fidelio begs Rocco to take her with him on his rounds, and he promises to seek Pizarro's permission.

Pizarro arrives to find a letter informing him that Don Fernando will arrive shortly to investigate rumours that Pizarro is holding political prisoners. Fearing that Fernando will discover his cruel and illegal treatment of Florestan, Pizarro decides there is only one way out of his dilemma: Florestan must be killed. Pizarro tries to bribe Rocco to get rid of the troublesome prisoner. Rocco is not prepared to stoop to bloodshed, but does agree to dig a grave while Pizarro carries out the murder. Rocco tells himself the starving prisoner is in such pain anyway that death would be a release.

Fidelio overhears enough to be horrified at Pizarro's malice, but calls on hope and love to guide her and help her end her husband's torment.

Fidelio and Marzelline persuade Rocco to let the prisoners out of their cells for a few moments of fresh air. The prisoners revel in the sunlight, but then caution one another to speak softly, as they are being watched and overheard.

Rocco informs Fidelio that Pizarro has given permission for Fidelio and Marzelline to marry and for Fidelio to help Rocco. Indeed, the two of them must go immediately to the mysterious prisoner – not to release him, as Fidelio hopes, but to dig his grave. Fidelio is so shaken that Rocco offers to do the job on his own, but she insists that she must see the poor man, no matter how it breaks her heart.

Having learned that Rocco has let the prisoners roam about, Pizarro enters in a rage. Thinking quickly, Rocco explains that he thought it a good idea to celebrate the King's birthday – and to create a diversion while he went off to prepare the grave for the condemned prisoner. Pizarro grudgingly tells him to get to work on his digging and orders the prisoners locked up again.

Act 2

In his dungeon, Florestan broods on the horror of the darkness and silence in which he is confined for speaking truth to power. His only solace is the knowledge that he did what was right – and the thought of Leonore. He collapses to the ground, exhausted.

Rocco and Fidelio arrive and begin digging. Fidelio vows that whoever the prisoner is, she will do what she can to save him. As Florestan wakes and begins to speak, Leonore recognizes him and is overcome with joy and anguish. Florestan, who does not recognize Leonore, asks Rocco to send word to his wife; Rocco refuses, saying it would be too dangerous, but he gives Florestan a little wine. When Fidelio pulls out some bread for the prisoner, Rocco tells her that is forbidden, but then softens. Florestan is overcome with gratitude at this small kindness.

Rocco gives the signal that all is ready, and Pizarro enters. He orders Rocco to send Fidelio away, but Fidelio lingers nearby. Pizarro reveals himself as the man Florestan had tried to overthrow and gloatingly declares that he will now have his revenge. As he moves to stab Florestan, Fidelio throws herself between them, crying, "First, kill his wife!" After a moment of shock, Pizarro moves to kill them both, but Leonora draws a pistol.

A trumpet announces the arrival of Don Fernando, and Pizarro realizes all is lost. Overcome with joy and relief, Leonore and Florestan embrace.

In the prison courtyard, Don Fernando promises justice for everyone. Rocco reveals everything that has happened, and Fernando is jublilant to learn that his friend Florestan is alive. Pizarro is arrested, and Leonore removes Florestan's chains as the crowd praises her heroism.




Explore the Opera


Performances take place at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street, Victoria.