Fidelio has always been a triumph over adversity. From the outset, Beethoven struggled with its form, repeatedly making edits, changing librettist, and ultimately premiering three different versions between 1805 and 1815.

While Beethoven had a decade to get it right, it turns out Simone Young and her colleagues had just 24 hours to prepare for last night’s concert. As Young announced at the beginning of the performance, soprano Elza van den Heever had been forced to withdraw due to a bout of tonsillitis. Jump-ins are commonplace in the world of opera (especially post-COVID), however with nobody available to take her place in the lead role of Leonore/Fidelio, a cancellation seemed likely.

Simone Young conducts Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday, 24 November, 2022

Never one to give up, Young engaged the services of not one but two exceptional sopranos to share the role, which they both learnt from scratch with just 24 hours’ notice. The first, Eleanor Lyons, last performed with Young in Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied just before the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House was closed for refurbishment in 2019. Given the strain...