Leonora (opera)

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Leonora, ossia L’amore coniugale (Leonora or Conjugal Love) is an opera (specifically a dramma semiserio) in two acts by the Italian composer Ferdinando Paer. The libretto, by Giovanni Schmidt, is based on Léonore ou L’Amour conjugal (1794) by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, which was also the source of Beethoven's Fidelio. Beethoven himself owned a score of Paer's opera and it is believed to have had some influence on his work. Leonora was first performed at the Kleines Kurfürstliches Theater, Dresden on 3 October 1804 with the composer's wife singing the title role.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 3 October 1804
Leonora soprano Francesca Riccardi-Paer
Marcellina soprano Charlotte Häser
Florestano tenor
Don Fernando tenor
Don Pizarro tenor
Rocco bass
Giacchino bass


Leonora disguises herself as a man in order to infiltrate the prison where her husband, Florestano, is being held by his enemy, Don Pizarro. She fools the jailer Rocco into giving her a job. When Don Pizarro hears of the imminent arrival of the governor, Don Fernando, he orders Rocco to execute Florestano. Leonora accompanies Rocco to the underground cell where Florestano is being held then threatens the jailer with a pistol until Don Fernando arrives and Florestano is freed.


There was a performance given at Schwetzingen in 1976 under Peter Maag. This was recorded live and issued on the MRF label. Soloists were: Carson/Casula/Jerusalem/Frusoni/Stavrù/Luccardi/Tadeo-G (key: leonora/marcellina/fernando/florestano/pizarro/giacchino/rocco). Two years later (1978) Decca made a studio recording, also under Maag: Koszut/Gruberová/van Kesteren/Jerusalem/Orth/Brendel/Tadeo-G with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. This was in stereo and issued in the U.S. as London OSA 13133. The UK première was given by Bampton Classical Opera in 2008, in English.