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Fidelio is the only opera by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). The libretto was originally prepared by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly.

The original text

Fidelio is inspired by a true story from the French Revolution. It centres on a woman, Leonore, whose husband Florestan has been secretly imprisoned by his political rival – the villainous Don Pizarro. Originally titled Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe. The opera premiered at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 20 November 1805.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1970: Presented by CAPAB Opera in collaboration with UCT; presented by NAPAC Opera.

1978: Presented by CAPAB Opera.

1990: Presented by CAPAB Opera (31 January – 17 February)

1994: Presented by CAPAB Opera (14–25 April)

2004: Presented by Cape Town Opera (27 March) on Robben Island, with Elizabeth Connell and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

2012: Presented by Cape Town Opera (7–10 March) in the Castle of Good Hope.


'Fidelio in a nutshell'. Opera North.

Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

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