Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail is not Mozart's best opera, at least to me, the story is engaging enough but it doesn't always know which direction it wants to go, whether it wants to be comedic or serious for example. However it is interesting as an opera, the characters are memorable especially Osmin and Marten Aller Arlen and Ha Wie Will Ich Triumphieren among Mozart's best arias.
I don't consider this Entfuhrung the best, the Glyndebourne production with Willard White and Valerie Masterson is hard to beat, but the 1980 performance with Gruberova, Araiza and Talvela comes close. Anybody looking for a traditional production may want to look elsewhere, anyone for something different may enjoy it. Just for the record I did enjoy it, and I bought the barbed-wire, gun-toting thugs concept, though I do understand why some mayn't.
The Mozartean Orchestra play wonderfully with effortless style, and the whole score is conducted with exuberance. The dialogue is well-pronounced and moves at a swift pace in general, and even provides a number of laughs with Osmin. The costumes and sets are appealing enough, and the sound, camera work and picture quality are very good.
As are the performances. Paul Groves is the only one who struggles with some of the German pronunciation in the dialogue, but sings very sweetly and stylistically. Malin Hartelius is a very credible Blonde while rebuking Osmin's courting, and there is a very heroic-sounding Pedrillo and well-performed Pasha Selim.
Franz Hawlata may lack a little bit of resonance on some of the basso notes(ie. the low D in Ha Wie Will Ich Triumphieren, though if there is consolation not many Osmins completely excel at that note) but he is still excellent as Osmin, not just with his firm voice but he is great in his acting. He is suitably ominous in parts, but he particularly shines when he is in comedic mode such as the Wine Drinking scene which is genuinely funny without falling into overkill or farce.
Christine Schaefer is outstanding as Konstanze. It is a fiendishly difficult role, perhaps the most difficult of the Mozart soprano roles, but Schaefer sings and acts Konstanze so well, she makes it seem easy with her shining colouratura, technique and ability to sing in the lower register and do a big jump to high. Her acting is suitably restrained and poignant. Marten Aller Arten is wonderful, not just vocally but the idea to have on-stage soloists proved a good one.
All in all, interesting. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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