Beethoven’s Message to Guantanamo — And To Us

BeethovenMy musical hero Beethoven  (born around this date in 1770; baptized on December 17; died 1827) wrote only one opera, Fidelio.

In it, instead of rhapsodizing about Teutonic gods, or killing off ill-fated sopranos, his story dealt with a group of political prisoners who win their freedom from an oppressive system, mainly through the heroism of a woman.

A moment from the Prisoners Chorus in “Fidelio.”

In Beethoven’s opera, there’s a scene where a group of prisoners is let out of their dank cells for a surprise visit to a nearby garden.

Overcome by the sight of the sky and the greenery, they sing a chorus, “O welche Lust,” one of the most affecting pieces I’ve heard in the operatic literature.

Here’s the English version of their text, and a fine clip of the scene from the Metropolitan Opera. I urge you to watch the clip (8 minutes), listen to the music, and choose to help bring its operatic denouement to pass in our time.

This post is dedicated to all of those wrongly imprisoned and mistreated, especially those in Guantanamo, where some have been kept for more than fifteen years without trial, under the auspices of “my” government. And to those who resolve to change that.

Go, Ludwig–Beat Gitmo.

Chorus—Of Prisoners.

Oh, what a pleasure once again
Freely to breathe the fresh air!
In Heaven’s light we live again;
From death we have escaped. . .

Let us in Heaven trust;
On Heaven depend our hopes:
He will on our griefs look with pity.
On His goodness all things depend.

Oh, liberty! oh, salvation!
Oh, God, upon our miseries have pity!

Amnesty International USA activists, holding a banner that says ‘Close Guantanamo, protest the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, in front of the White House, Washington DC, USA, 11 January 2012.





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