Fidelio has always posed difficulties for operatic interpreters. On the literal level it is straight-forward enough, much more so, certainly, than its great Mozartian predecessor, The Magic Flute. All three of its versions tell the unproblematical story of a wife, Leonore, who disguises herself as a boy in order to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband. In the prison she obtains a job with the jailor, Rocco, whose daughter proceeds to fall in love with her (in spite of being promised to the prison gatekeeper). The central action is triggered when the governor of the prison, Don Pizarro, learns that the Minister (representing the central monarchy) has set out to visit the prison, suspecting that it harbours several ‘victims of arbitrary force’. Pizarro is terrified that the Minister will discover one particular inmate, Florestan, who had threatened to expose his crimes and whom the Minister believes to be dead (we, of course, have no difficulty recognising him as Leonore's husband). Pizarro thus resolves to murder Florestan. In the second act Rocco and Leonore precede Pizarro into the dungeon to dig the victim's grave, and there Leonore ascertains that the condemned prisoner is indeed her husband. When Pizarro descends for the kill, he is confronted by Leonore, who tells him he will have to kill Florestan's wife first, and pulls a gun on him. At exactly this moment, a trumpet call announces the Minister, whose arrival dissolves the dramatic situation with breathtaking suddenness: Florestan is rescued, husband and wife are reunited, and Pizarro's tyranny is broken. In the final scene all the prisoners are liberated, Pizarro is banished (presumably to face imprisonment himself), and the Minister, learning that his friend Florestan has been saved by his wife's courage, invites her to unlock his chains. The opera ends with a choral tribute to wifely devotion.