Has a lot of fine things, but Mei didn't quite work for me
Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail is not one of my favourite Mozarts, but it is very entertaining still with sparkling music. This production is very good on the whole, and has many fine things. But is it my favourite Entfuhrung. No the Salzburg production with Gruberova, Araiza, Grist and Talvela and the Glyndebourne production with Masterson, Watson and White are my favourites.
Where this production didn't really score for me was the Konstanze of Eva Mei. I have liked Mei in roles before, her Countess is moving and her Thais was intelligently sung and acted. But apart from a surprisingly good Matern Aller Arten and some decent acting, this killer role doesn't see her in particularly good voice, shrill and wobbly rather than acute and flexible. Of the Konstanzes on DVD, only Laura Aikin in the awful 2006 Salzburg production(better known as part of the Mozart 22 series) evoked this reaction from me.
Thankfully though the rest of the singing is great, the best being the very funny and intimidating Osmin of Kurt Rydl, whose singing also in the role is at its most sonorous and booming. Patrizia Ciofi is a suitably pert Blonde with delightfully creative acting, while Rainer Trost's Belmonte is vocally lyrical and in acting he gives the role a charm and sincerity. The Pedrillo is very good also.
Visually, the production looks lovely. The Moroccan-like scenery is colourful and intricate looking. The costumes are authentic and flatters the singers, while the staging emphasises the comic and dramatic aspects of the opera wonderfully and the choreography organised and spirited.
Musically it is mostly excellent. The orchestral playing is well balanced and spirited in style as well as musical, while the chorus sing wonderfully. Zubin Mehta is alert and involved on the whole and you can tell by his smiling that he is enjoying himself, though there are parts in this performance where I felt that his conducting could have been more forceful and sensitive.
All in all, a lot of fine things but Mei disappointed and while mostly fine Mehta's conducting did at times need more subtlety. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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