In 2018, Heartbeat Opera collaborated with more than 100 incarcerated singers and 70 “outside” volunteer singers in six prison choirs across four Midwestern states (Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota, and Iowa) to create a special music video of “O Welche Lust,” the Prisoners Chorus in Fidelio. Heartbeat company members sent letters to our incarcerated colleagues, sharing about our process and asking questions like “What was it like learning this music and singing in German? What does the story of Fidelio mean to you? What would you like audiences to know about you?” These are their responses, displayed here with their permission.
In this stunning adaptation of Beethoven’s Fidelio, a black activist is wrongfully incarcerated. His wife, Leah, disguises herself to infiltrate the system and free him. But when injustice reigns, one woman’s grit may not be enough to save her love. Fidelio’s live cast of five singers and seven musicians are joined by a prerecorded virtual chorus of more than 100 incarcerated singers from six prison choirs in the United States. The result is “Imaginative, vital and heartbreaking” (The New Yorker). This daring work pits corruption against courage, hate against hope. Tickets on sale for February 19.