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The dazed shuffling of the prisoners is movingly done. To them freedom is so precious an ideal there can be not one of them proposing an interview with the newspapers or a posthumous television appearance. They huddle together as if blinded by the sunlight, and their spokesmen speak up for them from the midst, hardly individualised [watch and listen -- chapter 14, 47:51-49:15]. They know their every move and word is carefully marked by the soldiers pacing their beat on the walkway above. Fidelio moves among them searching for the husband she suspects is incarcerated somewhere in the prison. But Florestan, in an unwholesome vault far below, is not yet to see the light of day.

Leonora (Anja Silja) and Rocco (Ernst Wiemann). DVD screenshot © 2007 Arthaus Musik GmbH
Leonora (Anja Silja) and Rocco (Ernst Wiemann). DVD screenshot © 2007 Arthaus Musik GmbH

Fidelio has been taken on as Rocco's assistant to help dig the grave for Pizarro's bitterest enemy. The double bassoon eerily reinforces the pickaxe's gruesome work as Fidelio seeks to discover whether it is indeed Florestan whom Pizarro intends to murder [watch and listen -- chapter 21, 78:05-79:08]. Horrorstruck that it is he, she gives him what has become the most famous operatic morsel of food to eat and sip to drink. Both are rescued by Leonora's production of a revolver against Pizarro and the distant trumpet on the ramparts announcing the minister's arrival. Pizarro can only flee to certain exposure and disgrace [watch and listen -- chapter 26, 95:08-96:12].

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Copyright © 31 July 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK


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