Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fill in Your Bingo Card by Seeing the Granddaddy of Beethoven’s Fidelio

Great news!  If you are hoping to fill in your Bingo card for the predecessors of Beethoven’s Fidelio, see what The Washington Concert Opera wrote this week:

—————————— snip 8< ————————————

“The idea of a strong female who ends up liberating somebody who’s been unjustly imprisoned, and helping bring down a powerful, evil person, I think that still really resonates today…” -Antony Walker
Anne Midgette’s piece Strong woman confronts unjust ruler – opera tells, and retells, the story, available online now and in print this Sunday, takes a closer look at the three different versions of the “Leonore” story coming to DC and New York City in the coming weeks.
Check out the links below to buy tickets to these exciting performances!
Léonore, ou l’amour conjugal 
Sunday, February 19
3 PM at Lisner Auditorium
Beethoven’s Leonore
Sunday, March 5
6 PM at Lisner Auditorium

Metropolitan Opera


March 16 – April 8

—————————— end snip 8< ————————————

For a detailed look at the how a strong woman caused three different settings to spring forth in 1804/1805 based on the libretto for the French Leonore of 1798–Paer (Italian), Mayr (Italian), and  Beethoven (German)–see John A. Rice’s excellent Empress Marie Therese and Music at the Viennese Court, 1792-1807.

You’ve already got a head start on your Bingo card by seeing (or hearing) music from Ferdinando Paer’s Leonora in Parker & Paer’s A Roadkill Opera.  Most recently, the full Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) performed highlights of A Roadkill Opera in a free performances at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia, on October 21, 2016.

A chamber orchestra performed in the world premiere of A Roadkill Opera at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington, DC, in January 2016.

It was prescient of Pam Schipper, writing in the Gaithersburg Town Courier in June 2014, to say that

“Parker’s “A Roadkill Opera” pairs the formerly obscure classical music of Ferdinando Paer, one of Beethoven’s contemporaries, with Parker’s semi-autobiographical libretto recounting the hour before the opening night performance of the sketch comedy “Roadkill Live!!!” on Independence Day 1988 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.” [emphasis added]

Paer’s Leonora had been quite popular in its day, from its release in 1804 until the composer’s death in 1839. It was not performed again until Peter Maag revived it in the 1970s, going so far as to perform it on radio and to issue a boxed set of LPs. No other commercially released recording of the music from Paer’s Leonora has been issued since, with the exception of Parker & Paer’s A Roadkill Opera (studio album released July 4, 2013),  which is built on the overture and first act of Paer’s Leonora. 

Gaveaux’s 1798 Leonore, which started this chain, is receiving its U.S. premiere this week, on Sunday, February 19, 2017. Beethoven’s first crack at Leonore/Fidelio is receiving its U.S. premiere on Sunday, March 5, 2017. To complete the cycle, all we need are productions of Mayr’s 1805 L’amour coniugale and Paer’s 1804 Leonora.

Beethoven had a copy of Paer’s score for Leonora in his library, although it is unknown as to when he acquired it. They were friends and both worked in the same circles in Vienna.

Sheet music and backing tracks for A Roadkill Opera are available through your local music shop or bookseller, and through online sales by the likes of Amazon. That way you can do it yourself!

Banner showing seven generation history of Leonora/Fidelio
The seven generations of Leonore began with Gaveaux’s 1798 Leonore, followed by Paer’s 1804 Leonora, Mayr’s 1805 L’amor coniugale, and Beethoven’s three versions (beginning in 1805) of Leonora/Fidelio, and culminating in Parker & Paer’s 2012 A Roadkill Opera