Introducing… Die Entführung aus dem Serail
In this instalment we lift the lid on Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Mozart’s swashbuckling yet thoughtful tale of kidnap, rescue and ultimately, forgiveness.
In this instalment we lift the lid on Die Entführung aus dem Serail – Mozart’s swashbuckling yet thoughtful tale of kidnap, rescue and ultimately, forgiveness.
In this video Glyndebourne’s resident opera expert Alexandra Coghlan tells you everything you need to know about the opera, with behind the scenes insights from our Production Manager Tom Harrison and Music Librarian Martyn Bennet.
A brief introduction
Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s first opera for Vienna – an ambitious calling card intended to establish him at the musical heart of this sophisticated society. As Alexandra says, ‘this is a young man’s opera, a piece that’s desperate to make its mark. The result is a score that’s full of musical fireworks and vocal virtuosity all framed in an exotic Turkish setting’.
Bright orchestral colours and crunchy, percussive textures give the score its distinctive exoticism and energy. Add this to a sequence of arias that include many of the most demanding and dazzlingly virtuosic the composer ever wrote, and you have a work whose musical attractions are undeniable.
‘It’s a comedy, but also a love story’ says Alexandra, ‘and underneath all of that it’s a piece that asks us some fairly serious questions about the nature of humanity and civilisation.’
The opera follows the trials of Konstanze, an English noblewoman who has been kidnapped by pirates, and sold into the harem of Pasha Selim in Turkey. Konstanze is desperate to escape, and at the same time, her lover Belmonte is endeavouring to rescue her. This is all complicated by the fact that the Pasha has fallen for Konstanze.
Why not to miss this production
David McVicar’s production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail premiered in 2015 and this will be its first revival.
The production was a hit with the critics, who praised its thoughtfulness and mesmerising visuals. Vikki Mortimer’s designs came in for a lot of praise, with their opulence and attention to detail creating a rich evocation of the Turkish court.
Water is a key part of the sets, ‘In the opera you’ve very much got a sense of the sea, but creating a seascape like that is a bit of a challenge’ says Production Manager Tom Harrison. You can watch the video above to hear more from Tom about how the impressive ocean vistas were created.
A great moment to look out for
The bravura centrepiece of the opera is Konstanze’s aria ‘Martern aller Arten’ in which, despite the Pasha’s advances, Konstanze refuses to betray Belmonte, saying she would rather suffer torture than submit.
The piece is fascinating both technically (the virtuosic demands it makes over 10 minutes of music are enormous) and psychologically – it’s for the audience to decide if the heroine’s overflowing, barely controlled rage and passion is directed towards the Pasha, or herself and her desire she feels for him.
In the video at the top of this page, Music Librarian Martyn Bennet explains how Mozart’s orchestration of the aria builds and builds to a storm-like crescendo.
Cast and creative team
Die Entführung aus dem Serail will be conducted by Australian rising star Nicholas Carter, who is Chief Conductor of the Stadttheater Klagenfurt and the Kärntner Sinfonieorchester.
This revival stars American soprano Lisette Oropesa as Konstanze, who audiences may remember from her turn as Norina in 2017’s Don Pasquale.
Oropesa is accompanied by an exciting international ensemble of young singers making their Glyndebourne debuts, including Austrian tenor Martin Mitterrutzner as Belmonte, Croatian bass Ante Jerkunica as Osmin, Finnish soprano Tuuli Takala as Blonde and Polish tenor Krystian Adam as Pedrillo.
Image credits: Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Festival 2015. Photos by Richard Hubert Smith | Don Pasquale, Festival 2017. Photo by Bill Cooper