If you’re looking for fun, light-hearted music, and an exotic adventure of a story, then this is definitely the opera for you!
University of York Opera Society presents Mozart’s Seraglio:
Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio is one of the most unique works in his operatic canon, though it is not at all an opera in the traditional sense. Instead, it follows the German pantomimic tradition of singspiel – a spoken word play with musical interludes (much like the more famous late singspiel The Magic Flute).
Both the score’s strangely Oriental twists and the blatant Janissary marching music, place one’s thoughts in the 18th-century Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey), although this production is set in more of a ‘fairytale’ land. Mozart composed the work in 1782 to a libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie, who in turn reworked an earlier story by Christoph Bretzner called ‘Belmont und Constanze’. It seems to have been written almost as a response to the 1781 opera seria Idomeneo …
Mozart evidently became so tired of writing dramas about Greek and Roman gods that he decided to write about real people instead (despite the ironically ridiculous plot).
Seraglio contains some of the most challenging vocal roles in the whole classical repertoire with each having their particular challenges; regarding the vocal pyrotechnics of Konstanza’s bravura arias, the Emperor Joseph II famously (and supposedly) said ‘there are too many notes’, to which Mozart replied ‘there are just as many notes as are necessary’.
The story tells of a lover (Belmonte) who comes to rescue his beloved (Konstanze) and two of his friends (Pedrillo and Blonde) from the palace of the notorious Pasha Selim, after they were abducted by Pirates; despite Belmonte’s efforts, the Pasha’s evil servant Osmin constantly stands in the way of their escape and foils every plan. Will they ever succeed in obtaining their freedom?
’A Turkish tale of love, fate and forgiveness’