Wednesday, 6 August 2008

138. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) (1782)


Title: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Performers: Arleen Auger, Ren Grist, Peter Schreier, Harald Neukirch, Kurt Moll, Staatskapelle Dresden
Director: Karl Bohm
Year: 1973
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes


Mozart does something really quite different with this opera, firstly it can hardly be called an opera as it is really a Singspiele, a sung play, and in German as well. He would come back to this in the Zauberflote later in his career. Here he creates some great music with what is unfortunately not that amazing a libretto.

This is also one of the most enjoyable Operas we've had just to sit and listen to, the music is stupendous and even if it benefits from seeing it set on stage it works very well just as an auditory piece. The problem is having to go through the spoken word sections which are plentiful.

Part of what makes this so fun is the exotic quality of the opera, Mozart's take on Turkish music is both spectacular and whimsical, making some of the first mock-epic music (there are earlier examples such as Lully's Marche Pour La Ceremonie Des Turcs)but Mozart is particularly whimsical. Then there are some great coloraturas in what would be quite dull arias by Konstanze, Osmir never ceases to amuse and the Janissary choruses are great. Highly Recommended, and it will only get better.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Die Entführung aus dem Serail is in the genre of "Singspiel", meaning that much of the action is carried forward by spoken dialogue, thus the music lacks recitatives and consists entirely of set numbers.

The work is lighthearted and meant for fun, with little of the deeper character exploration or darker feelings found in Mozart's later operas.[8] It played off a contemporary enthusiasm for the "exotic" culture of the Ottoman Empire, a nation which had only recently ceased to be a military threat to Austria[9] and thus held a piquant interest for the Viennese. Mozart's opera includes a Westernized version of Turkish music, based very loosely on the Turkish Janissary band music, that he had employed in earlier work; see Turkish music (style). Like most comedies of the time, it utilizes many elements in plot and characterization that were first established by the Commedia dell'Arte.

The characters of the opera play off Turkish stereotypes, notably Osmin, the Pasha's comically sinister overseer. However, the opera cannot be entirely considered as stereotyping of the Turks, since the climax of the plot depends on a rather selfless act on the part of the Pasha.

The music includes some of the composer's most spectacular and difficult arias. Osmin's Act III aria "Wie will ich triumphiren" includes characteristic 18th century coloratura passage work, and twice goes down to a low D, the lowest note demanded of any voice in opera.[citation needed] Perhaps the most famous aria in the opera is the long and elaborate "Martern aller Arten" ("Tortures of all kinds") for Konstanze, an outstanding challenge for sopranos. Konstanze sings in a kind of sinfonia concertante with four solo players from the orchestra; the strikingly long orchestral introduction, without stage action, also poses problems for stage directors.

The virtuosity of these roles is perhaps attributable to the fact that when he took up the task of composing the opera, Mozart already knew the outstanding reputations of the singers for whom he was writing, and he tailored the arias to their strengths. The first Osmin was Ludwig Fischer, a bass noted for his wide range and skill in leaping over large intervals with ease. Similarly, Mozart wrote of the first Konstanze, Catarina Cavalieri, "I have sacrificed Konstanze's aria a little to the flexible throat of Mlle. Cavalieri."

The finale:

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