Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio (1814), had a difficult birth, and this recording allows us to hear the composer’s first thoughts when the work was unveiled as Leonore in 1805. The most striking thing about Leonore is that it contains a lot more music and certain characters—most notably Marzelline—have a more important role. The later version is considerably tauter, but there’s much to enjoy here, not least René Jacobs’ natural dramatic instincts. Marlis Petersen and Maximilian Schmitt make an impressive central couple while Robin Johannsen is a delightful Marzelline. The other roles are strongly cast, making a powerful case for this Beethoven rarity.