Front Page Titles (by Subject) ARGUMENT. - Beethoven' s Opera Fidelio. German Text, with an English Translation
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
ARGUMENT. - Ludwig van Beethoven, Beethoven’ s Opera Fidelio. German Text, with an English Translation 
Beethoven’ s Opera Fidelio. German Text, with an English Translation (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1864).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Florestan, a noble Spaniard, a valued friend of Fernando, the Prime Minister, had, by his fearless exposure of the misdeeds of Pizarro, awakened the deadly hatred of the latter. This wretch was not without the means of gratifying his malignity. Being appointed the governor of a fortress, used as a place of confinement for political prisoners, he managed to get possession of the person of his enemy, circulated a report of his death, and immured him in the deepest and darkest of the state dungeons. Here the nobleman would have died, had it not been for the faithful love of his wife, Leonora, who did not believe him dead, suspected Pizarro, and finally, in the disguise of a young man, calling herself Fidelio, solicited and received employment from Rocco, head jailer under Pizarro. The youth made rapid headway in the affections of the old man, and also in those of his daughter, Marcellina, who quite neglected her rustic lover, Jaquino, for the gentle and polished stranger. Leonora, although pained at this, felt obliged to encourage the love of the girl, for the sake of her influence over the father; and they together so far prevailed upon him, that he consented to allow Fidelio to go to the more secret portions of the prison. They also begged, for the inmates of the outer cells, the privilege of spending a few hours in the sunshine of the court-yard. The prisoners, naturally, were overjoyed at this indulgence; but, after a short time, were ordered to confinement again by Pizarro, who harshly chided the jailer for his kindness.
Pizarro, just before, had received notice from a friend, that the Prime Minister was on his way to the prison. Should Fernando see Florestan, farewell to revenge. Something must speedily be done to avert the danger. Rocco is commanded to kill and bury the supposed criminal in the inner dungeon. He refuses to kill, but will dig the grave. Pizarro himself will dispatch the victim. Rocco, with Fidelio, accordingly repairs to the gloomy vault, where Florestan is discovered, but sleeping; and so dim is the light, that his agitated wife cannot be sure it is he. The two proceed to clear out an old cistern, which is to be the place of burial. Florestan awakes, and is recognized. Pizarro enters and is about to give the fatal blow, when, with a shriek, Leonora throws herself between the murderer and her husband. Her sudden avowal of her name causes a hesitation on the part of Pizarro, but he again raises the dagger, when he is confronted by a pistol, which points directly at his head. Florestan is saved; for, a moment after, the trumpets signal the arrival of Fernando. Pizarro is summoned to meet him. Rocco brings forth Florestan and his heroic wife, who has the gratification of unlocking and removing his hateful fetters. Other prisoners are released, and the occasion is one of full-measured joy to all, unless we except the jailer’s daughter, who is dismayed at the discovery of the real character and station of the pretty Fidelio. She, however, has the old love to fall back upon.
“Fidelio” was first given in 1805, at the Imperial house at Vienna, but was not at first a favorite. It was revised, and changed to its present form, and reintroduced to the public in 1814, since which time no opera has been more highly esteemed.