Here is Beethoven’s first attempt at the opera that would eventually find success under the name Fidelio. This is also the Vienna State Opera’s first production of this original version, circa 1805. It was called Leonore, but its reception was poor, mainly because Vienna was then occupied by the French military and the Viennese had left town. It was a longer opera, and Beethoven shortened it for its second premiere, in 1806. But he still wasn’t happy with it and worked on it incessantly. “This opera will earn me a martyr’s crown,” he said, as he cut, revised, and reworked his way to 1814. —L.J.
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