Marzelline's Aria, with an abbreviated conclusion, Hess 113 (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
For Beethoven a composition was never finished: after a piece had been performed, or even published, he could come back to it and try out new changes. See for example the Second Piano Concerto (cf. the recording by Kazakevich & English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mackerras (available on CD, Conifer Classics 75605-51237-2), the Pastoral Symphony (an alternative ending to the Scene at the Brook can be found on this site), or the changes to Fuer Elise, some 12 years after it had been composed (also on this site).
Therefore it's no real surprise that when Beethoven, after two failed attempts (Hess 121 and 122, also on this site), finally found the definitive form for Marzellina's aria from Fidelio, he continued to make changes to it. However, the cut of the final 19 bars of the aria doesn't seem to stem from musical necessity, but rather from pressure by friends and others to shorten the opera. The ending of the present version is just about possible, but those who are familiar with the original ending (which also occurs in both Hess 121 and 122) will feel as if they are being robbed.
It's a bit pathetic to see Beethoven mutilate his own music to save some 30 seconds, when minutes of idle chit-chat could, and should, have been cut in a rigorous reworking of the libretto.