I was first introduced to Fidelio when I bought a recording of the opera conducted by Toscanini when I was aged about 15 or 16.
I then went to an opera workshop in London when I was a student at the Royal College of Music and that’s where we did bits of some of the great operas including the quartet and trio from Fidelio. We did the first five numbers. After that I saw it at Covent Garden several times in a production which Klemperer had done himself in 1961. I actually heard him conduct it in a revival in 1969 which was simply amazing.
There had been a mystique about Klemperer’s performances of Beethoven and his Fidelioat Covent Garden created an incredible stir in the 1960s and that definitely rubbed off on me. I was already a huge admirer of his, and I remember him doing the Beethoven symphonies. He was getting on then and was essentially sitting in a chair, but there were these moments when he rose up, this giant of a man, and you knew he had this mastery of every bit of the music.