Back on the Chain Gang: A Classic Prisoners’ Chorus

However you slice it, opera was just not Beethoven’s thing.

He composed only one opera, Fidelio, and it never caught on. Okay, let’s face it: it was pretty much a flop. The plot is kind of silly, thus giving the music a difficult task of conveying drama where largely melodrama exists. And as for the music, much of it just doesn’t live up to the Beethoven brand.

But Fidelio isn’t all bad. Its three “Leonore” overtures have survived nicely in the concert hall, and the beautiful prisoners’ chorus, “O welche Lust,” remains one of the great choruses of all opera.

I thought you might enjoy this classic 1963 performance of the prisoners’ chorus by the German Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Berlin. 

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