Opera by Ludwig van Beethoven / Premiere
The young nobleman Florestan has been for two years in prison near Seville, thrown there by the governor of the prison Don Pizarro for trying to expose his crimes. To free him, his wife Leonore, disguised as a man by the name of Fidelio, has received a job as assistant to the jailer Rocco.
Porter shutter Jaquino woos the jailer's daughter, Marzelline. However, she is already in love with Fidelio. Rocco praises the “young man” for his conscientious work and interprets his embarrassment as a sign of his love for Marzelline. Rocco, Fidelio, Jaquino and Marzelline sing about love.
Fidelio offers to come along with Rocco in the dungeons of the prison to help him. Rocco replies that he could not allow him where a man languishes in chains. Leonore realizes that this is Florestan.
Don Pizarro learns that the Minister is coming to the prison for inspection. If they find out about Florestan, who is presumed dead, he will lose everything. Don Pizarro offers Rocco money to kill the prisoner, but he refuses. Then he orders him to dig a grave in the basement and when the job is finished, to give him a sign so that he would come down himself to commit the murder.
Leonore overhears the plan and convinces Rocco to let the prisoners out in the daylight in the prison yard. For the first time in a long time they taste the forgotten sweetness of freedom.
Rocco tells Fidelio that he can already come with him to the deepest dungeon. He informs him that there lies a prisoner who after an hour must be killed and buried. Leonore is terrified, but determined to get to her husband.
In the dank dungeon Florestan sings for his unwavering faith in God and before his eyes appears a vision of his wife. Rocco and Leonore find Florestan asleep and begin to dig his grave. When he wakes up, Leonore recognizes him with excitement. He asks the jailer to convey a message to his wife, but Rocco refuses. Then he asks for water and with Rocco's permission Fidelio serves a cup to his lips. Florestan does not recognize his wife. The grave is dug and Rocco alerts Don Pizarro, who descends into the dungeon. He sends Fidelio away, but Leonore hides and watches everything. Don Pizarro lifts up a knife against Florestan. From darkness rushes Leonore, who stands between the two men with weapon directed against Don Pizarro.
A trumpet announces the arrival of the Minister together with Jackie and a group of soldiers. Rocco orders them to take Don Pizarro away.
The released prisoners and the people celebrate the happy day; Don Fernando announces the end of tyranny. Rocco, Leonore and Florestan ask Don Fernando to pardon all wronged. Rocco reveals the treachery of Don Pizarro, who is taken to jail, as well as the action of Leonore to save her husband. Marzelline is shocked, but happiness is universal. Leonore releases Florestan from the shackles and the people praise in song her courage and fidelity.