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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Naxos Fidelio from Budapest offers a first-rate modern cast incisively directed by Michael Halász, and very well recorded. Inga Nielsen is an outstanding Leonore, with every note sharply focused, using the widest tonal and dynamic range from bright fortissimo to velvety half-tone. Few singers on disc in recent years being to rival her account of the Abscheulicher, ranging from venomous anger to radiant tenderness. Gösta Winbergh makes a formidable Florestan, with Alan Titus a firm, sinister Pizarro and Kurt Moll a splendid Rocco…Even making no allowance for price, this version is among the very finest to have arrived in years, gaining clarity and incisiveness from the relatively small scale.

Stephanie Von Buchau
Seattle Opera, April 2003

"The Naxos set is a blooming bargain. Nielsen is a nearly perfect Leonore, with flawless pitch, warmth, and a strong top; Halasz brings out all the musical qualities I love in Fidelio. This is a sing-along album, and the first oboe of the Esterhazy orchestra should get a medal. The set is exciting, it's musical, it's Mozartian rather than Wagnerian, and it's also moving."

Alan Blyth
Gramophone, November 2000

"A recording that surpasses all recent sets of the piece by virtue of the all-round excellence of its cast and its vital conducting (Michael Halasz)."

George Jellinek
Fanfare, November 2000

The Naxos Fidelio enters a crowded field of honored competitors and, without the benefit of megastar performers, proves to be worthy of comparison with the very best.

James H. North
Fanfare, November 2000

Naxos’s wonderful recording of Fidelio; Inga Nielsen is the finest Leonora ever, and the whole performance has an unmatched humanity and dramatic fervor. © 2000 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Robert Levine
Stereophile, May 2000

"If you're looking for a handsomely recorded, well-sung, nicely put-together Fidelio that's closer in size to Harnoncourt's smallish version than to any of Furtwängler's or the magnificent Klemperer (with the darkly colored Vickers and Ludwig), this set is ideal for you. Michael Halász leads a non-nonsense performance with what seems to be a not quite full-sized orchestra and emphasizes the humanity of our hero and heroine - a pair of regular types who rise heroically to the occasion.

"Nielsen and Winbergh are Scandinavian, and the typically bright northern sounds they make are most welcome, particularly since they sing every note, pay attention to the words, and seem genuinely involved. Their sounds may not be heroic per se, but their singing of the individual arias and the notoriously difficult "O namenlose Freude" certainly is. Alan Titus's big, nasty voice almost solves the problems in Pizarro's clumsily composed music, and Kurt Moll's luxurious bass is almost too dignified for Rocco, though he plays the bumpkin well.

"The chorus is impressive and intense when needed; the same might be said for the orchestra.

"In short, a fine Fidelio, one I'll be happy to return to again and again, particularly for our leading man and lady."

James H. North
Fanfare, April 2000

"Let me state right off that this is a magnificent performance. It is a studio recording but one that bursts with drama, with all the tension and thrills of a live performance.

The Nicolaus Esterazy Sinfonia demonstrates snap and polish, and the overture goes with impressive dramatic urgency. Marzelline (Edith Lienbacher) and Jaquino (Herwig Pecoraro) seem involved in more weighty matters than usual; she is excellent, sounding ready to step up to Leonore should the occasion demand. The introduction to the quartet, taken slowly, glows with warmth. Nielsen and Moll are equally fine; Rocco's aria and the trio go superbly. Titus's Don Pizarro proves both vocally potent and dramatically evil, a rare combination. Nielsen's "Abscheulicher!" comes as a shock: Her singing is flawless (impossible in this aria) and the dramatic effect is overwhelming. The accompanying horns are firm and rich, and indeed every orchestral effect is perfectly calculated. The aria is so fervent, with such commanding presence, that one is surprised when it ends quietly, without an outburst of cheers...

Naxos's warm recorded sound contributes much to the performance. The acoustic ambiance is somewhat reverberant, but not excessively so. Balances are ideal: solos, ensembles, choruses, and purely orchestral passages are just right... Three cheers for a Great Recording of the (new) Century!"

Jon Alan Conrad
Opera News, March 2000

"This new Fidelio, tautly and atmospherically conducted, solidly cast throughout, with exceptionally fluent and expressive work in the two leading roles, has a great deal to recommend it - not just as a low-priced alternative but as a possible first Fidelio in a collection.

"Michael Halász leads his excellent orchestra and chorus in an alert, propulsive rendition that addresses the theatrical and emotional values of each scene. He also seems to elicit top-grade performances from everyone in the cast.

"Inge Nielsen rises as impressively to the demands of Leonore as she did to Weber's Reiza (on RCA 68505): the grave nobility, dramatic thrust, easy flexibility and wide range demanded by these roles seem a perfect fit for her skills. If she hasn't the weighty grandeur of some classic Leonores of the past, her bright clarity offers its own substantial reward. Gösta Winbergh matches her level, combining vocal poise, tonal beauty and emotional dignity to create one of the best Florestans recorded."

Michael Tanner
Classic CD, February 2000

"It is a tremendous success... this recording has one of the strongest [opera casts], in the leading roles, for several decades."


Michael Shmith
Green Guide, January 2000

"Here, at a super-budget price, is a superlative performance of Beethoven's only opera that eclipses most of its more expansive rivals... Hungarian maestro Michael Halasz produces thrilling results... The young Danish soprano Inga Nielsen is a glorious Leonore-lyrical, supple of voice, yet thoroughly believable and dramatic-while the Finnish tenor Gosta Winbergh is a lighter-than-usual, but twice as effective Florestan: his opening cry of Gott! is all the more chilling for its dynamic build-up. Alan Titus's Pizarro is lean rather than beefy, and all the better for it, while the veteran bass Kurt Moll defies age as one of the finest Roccos on disc. The Hungarian Radio Chorus is exemplary, as is the playing of Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia. There is the real feeling of the stage about this recording. If you haven't got a Fidelio in your collection or want another, buy this."

Antony Bye
BBC Music Magazine, January 2000

"Extraordinarily impressive"

Opera News

One of the Top Ten Recordings of 2000. "A terrific performance at any price."

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