EMANUEL SCHIKANEDER (1751-1812) Engraving by Löschenkohl Schikaneder who as an actor belonged to the Burgtheater, in 1788 assumed the direction of the Freihaustheater of Vienna. He is the author of the libretto of Mozart "Magic Flute," the greatest success experienced by this theater. In June, 1801, he assumed the direction of the Theater an der Wien which had just been built. He offered Beethoven an apartment in the new theater building and commissioned him with the composition of his libretto: "Vesta's Fire." However, Beethoven, after a brief start and a sketch of the first scenes of the opera, withdrew from the commission. ( Mozart Museum, Salzburg)
THE IMPERIAL AND ROYAL THEATER AN DER WIEN Colored engraving From the beginning of 1805 Beethoven lived in the rooms offered by Schikaneder. The Theater an der Wien saw in succession the premières of several of Beethoven's large works: the "Eroica" on April 7, 1805, "Fidelio" on November 20 of that year, the Violin Concerto on December 23, 1806, and on the 22nd of December 1808, the Fifth Symphony and the "Pastoral" Symphony plus the "Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra," opus 80, in part under the personal direction of the composer. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
JOSEPH SONNLEITHNER (1766-1835) Oil painting by Alois Karner When Baron von Braun succeeded Schikaneder in the direction of the Theater an der Wien in 1804, he asked Beethoven to write an opera for the theater. The composer's choice was a French work "Leonore" or "Conjugal Love" by J. N. Bouilly, and the translation and arrangement of the libretto were entrusted to Sonnleithner, the Secretary of Court, who transformed the subject matter into a three act drama. Beethoven, enthused over the idea of glorifying marital love, went to work without delay. (Private Collection, Vienna)
GEORG FRIEDRICH TREITSCHKE, (1776-1842) Lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber First an actor, then a dramaturgist, Treitschke was the director of the Viennese Opera when "Fidelio" was premiered there. After the failure of 1805 and the demisuccess of 1806 he changed the libretto of the opera for the performances of 1814. (Beethovenhaus, Bonn)
IGNAZ VON SEYFRIED (1776-1841) After a lithograph of Joseph Kriehuber The former pupil of Mozart and Albrechtsberger, Seyfried was director of the orchestra at the Theater an der Wien from 1798 to 1828. During the rehearsals for "Fidelio" which he conducted on March 29 and April 10, he made Beethoven's acquaintance and a quasi-friendship developed. (Beethovenhaus, Bonn)
THE PROGRAM OF THE "FIDELIO" PREMIÈRE Notwithstanding the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon ( November 13, 1805) and the deplorable circumstances created by the events, the first performance of "Fidelio" took place November 20, 1805 at the Theater an der Wien. The outcome was not commensurate with the expectations of the composer and his friends, and after three performances the work disappeared from the schedules. -- Convinced of the value of this work, Beethoven had the libretto revised and shortened by his friend Stephan von Breuning. He also made changes in the score and modified the title to read "Leonore or the Triumph of Conjugal Love," an opera in two (in lieu of three) acts. On March 29, 1806 the opera was again performed, in this revision. However, after two performances Beethoven quarreled with the management and withdrew the opera. ( National Library, Vienna)
FRITZ DEMMER Lithograph This tenor sang Florestan in the première of "Fidelio" ( National Library, Vienna)
ANNA MILDER-HAUPTMANN (1785-1838) Water color by Perger This famous Viennese singer sang the role of Leonore in the first performance. ( National Library, Vienna)
FIDELIO LIBRETTO BY JOSEPH SONNLEITHNER Title page of the first edition published by Anton Pichler, Vienna, 1805. ( National Library, Vienna)
LEONORE, OR THE TRIUMPH OF CONJUGAL LOVE, LIBRETTO BY J. SONNLEITHNER, REVISED BY STEPHAN VON BREUNING Title page of the second edition, published by Anton Pichler in Vienna, 1806. ( Society of Friends of Music, Vienna)
NAPOLEON AND HIS TROOPS ENTERING VIENNA Engraving by Le Beau, after Naudet After the capitulation of Ulm Napoleon marched toward Vienna and captured it November 13, 1805. On December 2 he destroyed the Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz in Moravia which had been led by Czar Alexander I and Emperor Franz II. On December 26 of that year the peace treaty of Pressburg was concluded. Through it, the States of Venice became part of the Kingdom of Italy and various members of Napoleon's family ascended the thrones of Westphalia, Spain, Naples and Holland. In the year 1809 Vienna was occupied by Napoleon for the second time. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
AUTOGRAPH OF THE MARCH FROM FIDELIO (1804-05) In the first version of the opera (three acts), as it was performed in 1805, this March figured at the beginning of the second act. At the bottom of the page Beethoven says: "Where the measures are empty, rests are to be made." (Bodmer, Zürich)
LEONORE (FIDELIO) SCORE FOR PIANO AND VOICE Title page of the first edition for piano and voice Published in 1810 by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig. This arrangement of the version of 1806 does not contain the Overture Leonore No. 3, nor the aria of Rocco, nor the Finale. ( Society of Friends of Music, Vienna)