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One Opera, Four Overtures
Did you know that Beethoven only composed only one opera,
but wrote four different overtures for this opera?
The opera was “Fidelio” originally named “Leonore”
The overtures written in the following order (musicologists tell us)
Leonore Overture no 2; Leonore Overture no 3, Leonore Overture no 1 and Fidelio Overture
His first version with a three-act opera “Leonore” premiered in Vienna on November 20 1805 with “Leonore No. 2” as the overture. Vienna was under French military occupation, and most of the audience were French military officers who had little interest in German opera and thus it was not a success.
After this premiere, Beethoven and his friends had a wake, and they suggested he revise and shorten the opera into just two acts. He also wrote a new overture (now known as "Leonore No.3"). In this form, the opera was first performed on 29 March and 10 April 1806, with greater success.
In 1808 he planned a revival of the opera, and wrote “Leonore No. 1” which never came off
In 1814, Beethoven revised his opera again. This version was performed under the title Fidelio. The 17-year-old Franz Schubert was in the audience, having sold his school books to obtain a ticket. This version of the opera was a great success, and Fidelio has been part of the operatic repertory ever since.