Fidelio – The Synopsis
Shortly before Florestan was able to reveal the criminal machinations of the governor Don Pizarro, the latter had him kidnapped and illegally imprisoned. Ever since, Leonore, Florestan’s wife, has been searching for her husband, generally believed to be lost. In disguise, she gains entry to the state prison, where she convinces Rocco, the jailer, to hire her as his assistant under the name of Fidelio. Rocco’s daughter Marzelline has fallen in love with Fidelio.
Jaquino, one of Rocco’s employees, demands that Marzelline give in to his demands to marry him. While previously fond of him, Marzelline now rejects Jaquino. She longs for a future with Fidelio. Rocco values Fidelio as a son-in-law and agrees to a wedding with his daughter; he also rejects Jaquino. Leonore takes advantage of Rocco’s trust, asking him to allow her to accompany him into a dungeon where she suspects her husband Florestan. Rocco promises to ask Pizarro for permission for her to work in the secret dungeons. Pizarro appears and learns from a letter that Don Fernando, the minister, is planning to inspect the prison, having learned that victims of arbitrary violence are being held here by Pizarro. Pizarro wants to prevent Florestan’s discovery and tells Rocco to kill him in secret before the minister arrives. Rocco refuses to carry out Pizarro’s command, but agrees to dig a grave for Florestan inside the cistern. Leonore, who has secretly listened to their conversation, gathers new courage and gains permission to have the prisoners released from the upper cells for a short while. In the meantime, Rocco has secured permission for the wedding and Fidelio’s assistance in the lower dungeons. Pizarro storms back in, furious about the prisoners’ unauthorized break from their cells, urging Rocco to hurry up with his mission in the subterranean vault.
Florestan is languishing in the dungeon, close to death. He has a vision of hope in which his wife Leonore appears to him as a saving angel. Leonore and Rocco descend to the dungeon and dig the grave. Leonore urges Rocco to give the prisoner food and drink; only after Florestan has woken up does she recognize her husband. Pizarro appears to kill Florestan himself. At the last moment, Leonore throws herself between them, revealing that she is Florestan’s wife. A trumpet signal announces the arrival of Don Fernando, the minister. In the presence of the people, the minister speaks on behalf of the King against tyrannical oppression and political despotism. In the prisoner, he recognizes his friend Florestan, whom he had believed dead. Rocco informs the minister about Pizarro’s unauthorized actions and Leonore’s rescue mission. Pizarro is taken away; Marzelline is aghast at the deception Leonore has practiced upon her. Florestan is liberated, and Leonore’s deeds are praised.
Translation: Alexa Nieschlag