This film is in essence NOT what it claims to be - it is NOT "Die Entführung aus dem Serail". While it chewing and dissecting incessantly Die Entführung aus dem Serail, it is in reality only fragments of that great opera, chopped to fit the director's taste, who in turn showcases his erudition of the whole opera genre by referring to the "Cats". Perhaps before making this film, "Cats" was the only opera Elijah knew.
Alas, we simply do not have the whole continuous opera here, which is a real pity, since the original idea of making it "on location", in Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, seems very promising. The initial teasers excite the anticipation - the views of Istanbul seashore, its hills, the palace itself - all titillate imagination. Then Belmonte, in a costume of Mozart's time, walks to the palace, singing Die Entfuhrung opening aria "Hier soll ich dich denn sehen".
But it is interrupted by director's talking, and then the same pattern continues throughout, yet at the end we do not have the whole "opera" - the word opera means "a work" - so the actual work was not completed here, unfortunately.
I still give it three stars because I loved the scenery, and from that point on whenever I see Die Entfuhrung the images from this incomplete production conjure up in mind. The same was in Berlin on June 13 this year, where this opera was staged. The singing was excellent, I posted some videos on youtube:
Here on this DVD, however, the singing is superb, too - I loved Yelda Kodalli as Konstanze, and Desire Bancatore as Blonde. I'd say that if this production was complete, it would end up better than a classic Die Entfuhrung with Edita Gruberova and Karl Bohm, easily available on DVD here and everywhere. I find Kodalli Konstanze a very inspiring image, young, vulnerable and arrogant, quite different from Gruberova's interpretation.
Another pleasant character here in Peter Bone as Osmin; his voice is somewhat higher than a normal Osmin, and it sounded refreshing. The famous scene of Blonde teaching Osmin art of love in "Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln" aria is so marvelously staged here - so naturally and funny, with Desire Bancatore putting up a splendid performance.
All in all, I recommend this video due to great singing and scenery, while keeping in mind that the magic of continuous music will be interrupted here - perhaps the director thought that there were too many notes in the whole opera.