Mozart in Turkey
is a feature-length 88-minute hybrid BBC co-production which interleaves making-of documentary footage (24 minutes) and filmed highlights (64 minutes) from Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail
("The Abduction from the Seraglio"). Working to their pre-recorded performance of the complete opera
conducted by leading Mozartian Sir Charles Mackerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Choir, we see the cast mime to playback key arias, duets and quartets from Mozart's gorgeous work. The story of a Spanish noble woman, Konstanze (soprano Yelda Kodalli), her English maid, Blonde (soprano Désirée Rancatore), fiancé, Belmonte (tenor Paul Groves) and his servant, Pedrillo (tenor Lynton Atkinson) in the Turkish Harem of Pasha Selim (Oliver Tobias in a speaking role) is beautifully filmed in the famous Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
The documentary sections offer a brief, rather superficial look at Mozart's writing of the opera and the ideas that influenced it and are expressed within the drama. The music-making is hardly to be faulted and the staging is ravishing. Unfortunately the whole seems like an over-length DVD extra that should accompany a complete film of the opera--the very thing that is mysteriously missing from this release.
On the DVD Mozart in Turkey is presented anamorphically, enhanced at 16:9 for widescreen televisions, with a virtually flawless picture taken, presumably, from digital tape. If the programme is watched complete the sound is stereo only and the music sometimes sounds harsh. If music highlights are selected, sound is available in stereo or a much fuller and more rounded Dolby Digital 5.1. There are optional subtitles in English, German, Spanish, French and Dutch, but if any of these is selected it is imposed over the English-language documentary sections as well as the German-language opera scenes. When playing music highlights there are rather abrupt and unmusical fades in and out between scenes. The menu is awful, offering the option either to play all or select a given track, but not to play from a particular scene onwards. Switching subtitles on or off, or changing audio tracks, entails returning to the main menu then starting the programme afresh. There is no resume play facility and there are no extras. --Gary S Dalkin
Mozart In Turkey (Ratto Dal Serraglio)