The libretto to Fidelio was given to the composer by his friend Joseph Sonnleithner (1765–1835), who translated into German and adapted the French text Leonora ou l’amour conjugal, written by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly (1763–1842).
The libretto tells of Leonore who, disguised as a prison guard Fidelio, rescues her husband Floresta from a death from political prison. Topics as marital life, personal sacrifice and justice are the key points of the opera.
The last, shortened version of the opera (two acts) was first performed on 23 May 1814 at the Theater am Kärntnertor, having met with triumph. In 1814, Fidelio was first staged in Bohemia, conducted by the then Kapellmeister of the Estates Theatre, Carl Maria von Weber. Beethoven’s work was most recently presented in Prague in 1993, at the State Opera, under the title Leonore, so as to make it clear it was the original version.
The new production, which will be conducted by Andreas Sebastian Weiser, the music director of the State Opera, and staged by the renowned Bulgarian-German director Vera Nemirova, will be an adaptation of the opera’s final, 1814, version.