Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail is not one of my favourite Mozart operas and never has been in all honesty. However it is funny and interesting with Konstanze and Osmin among the most difficult roles of their respective voice parts and has as ever wonderful music from Mozart. My personal favourite productions has always been the 1980 Salzburg and 1980 Glyndebourne ones. This black and white one live from Salzburg in 1967 is still great and one of the better Entfuhrungs out there(the only one I've disliked so far is the one that is part of the 2006 Mozart 22 series).
Visually the performance is wonderful, simple but very elegant. Pasha Selim's costume is just spectacular. The black and white is clean. The only let down in this respect is that the silhouette that can be seen has a tendency to plunge the performers into darkness, though this is only for a short time and not all that frequent. The staging handles the comic and dark aspects of the opera very effectively without ever being coarse.
Musically there is very little to fault. The woodwinds in the orchestra are very stylish and delicate, a characteristic feature of Mozart opera and one that continues to delight. The string section is very lush and just as stylistic, if occasionally overpowering the woodwind. In short, while not the most authentic of sounds, it is still really stunning. Zubin Mehta's conducting has a great deal of energy and shows a sympathy to the singers and Mozart's score. The chorus are well balanced and satisfying dramatically.
The performances are hugely entertaining and sung extremely well in most regards. It is true that Fernando Corena's singing at times is rather approximate, with the taxing basso notes lacking sonority(then again few bass roles go to extreme low depths like Osmin) and the higher register somewhat fudged. But I found his Osmin a joy in characterisation, wickedly funny and delightfully ominous. Ha Will Ich Triumphieren is acted with vindictiveness and great comic glee, and I just love how he raises a laugh just by often doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
Konstanze is a killer for a soprano, and while not one of the greats in the role Ingeborg Hallstein still gives a noble stab with it. She is sympathetic and expressive and her colouratura is neat and efficiently done. The long and elaborate aria Martern Aller Arten is testament to this, but the Traurigkeit while expressive is often flat in pitch. Reri Grist is as ever splendid as Blonde, in a performance far more consistent vocally than in the 1980 Salzburg production. Blonde's music is not easy, but Grist with her sparkling bright soprano never makes that apparent and she is positively charming.
Luigi Alva cuts a handsomely elegant figure on stage, and sings lyrically and flexibly with a very sweet tone and well enunciated German. Ich Baue Ganz is included here, after instances of it being cut, and Alva copes wonders with it. Gerhard Unger, one of the best ever Davids(Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg), is a characterful Pedrillo and even at 51 looks and sounds great. Michael Heltau is a fine Pasha Selim, commanding and noble and proving to be a good listener.
Overall, brilliantly sung and well worth the look. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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