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Overture “Leonore” No. 1, Op. 138

Ludwig van Beethoven

In 18th century Spain, prison governor Don Pizarro has locked up political prisoner Florestan for the last two years. With an official investigation looming, Pizarro realizes he’ll need to have Floristan quietly executed. Luckily for justice, freedom and a successful plot, Florestan is saved by his wife Leonore: disguising herself as a man (named “Fidelio”), she obtains a job at the prison and foils Pizarro at the last moment. The married couple reunited, Pizarro is arrested and led away, and all sing in praise of Leonore’s dedication: an alternate title for the opera is Leonore, or the Triumph of Married Love.

Fidelio is Beethoven’s only opera, but he revised it several times to fix what he felt were problems with the piece. The Leonore Overture 1, performed today, was composed in 1807, a few of years after the first and second versions, possibly for a revival. (In 1807, Beethoven also composed the Fourth and Fifth symphonies, the Shakespearean overture Coriolanus, and the Mass in C.)

Submitted By Reuben Blundell
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Last Updated May 11, 2021
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