Claudio Abbado's Fidelio was taped live at last year's Lucerne
festival, where the opera was performed in a semi-staging by
Tatjana Gürbaca that seriously divided opinion. You might find
yourselves in two minds about the recording, too. Abbado's
contribution is without doubt extraordinary – a loving if slow
interpretation, noble in its anguish and elation, that
emphasises the work's demands for dignity, as well as liberty,
as basic human rights. The rest of it is more equivocal. On the
plus side, we have Falk Struckmann's chillingly sadistic Pizarro
and Christof Fischesser's attractive, younger-than-usual Rocco.
An exceptional Florestan – arguably the finest since Jon
Vickers's – from Jonas Kaufmann wonderfully conveys his moral
greatness as well as the extremity of his suffering.
Altogether less impressive, however, are Nina Stemme's deeply
unimaginative Leonore and the fact that Gürbaca was permitted to
replace much of the dialogue with pretentious monologues of her
own, which you will fast-forward through if you are wise.