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Beethoven started composing Leonore in January 1804. The subject - the release to freedom of an unjustly imprisoned man by his devoted wife - was part of the genre of 'rescue operas' which were very popular at the end of the 18th century. The premiere of Leonore, given before an uncomprehending audience at a time of political upheaval, was a failure and Beethoven responded by shortening the work from three acts to two, which was the version performed in 1806. After further revisions it was to emerge in 1814 as Fidelio. This performance is from Opera Lafayette's Leonore Project which included a performance of Pierre Gaveaux's Léonore, ou L'Amour conjugal (available on Naxos DVD 2.110591 and Blu-ray NBD0085V) - the opera on which Beethoven modelled his Leonore.