Top positive review
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Very Watchable. Enjoyable Performance.
on 12 October 2015
This has to be one of the very best performances of Mozart's 'The Abduction from the Seraglio ever staged. It has everything: sympathetic orchestration, great acting, wonderful singing and scene-friendly staging. All right, I realise that some viewers might find the staging too sparse, but, for me, therein lies its realism. Whereas 'cluttering up' can so easily curb the imagination, simple, suggestive staging stimulates it and this is what we have here. It's not helpful to have some stage designer telling us what the setting of a scene should look like. Good staging stimulates the minds of the viewers, allowing them the enjoyment of exercising their imaginations stimulated by the music and singing and here we have a superb example how all this works out into a great performance.
When any work falls into the category of being a comedy, it doesn't mean that it's supposed to be some kind of 'funny ha ha' performance. Top grade, well informed comedy brings out the ridiculousness of life in subtle fashion and this is what we have here with this production with its excellent interpretation of Mozart's witty humour. The use of modern costuming also works well, which it never does with historical works; but here we have a timeless window on the interactive idiosyncrasies of characters caught up in an interactive, emotional trap from which they all want to be rescued, but have no sensible idea as to how to best achieve this, which causes them all to end up in a classic muddle requiring a benign personality in the form of a pasha to sort it all out. The genius of Mozart lies in its timelessness.
I have a sneaking feeling that Mozart understood women and desired a more rewarding place for them in society. Otherwise, how was he able to create such realistic female characters for his operas? Certainly, the two strongest characters in this work are Konstanze, superbly sung and acted by Diana Damrau and her maid Blonde, equally well performed by Olga Peretyatko. These two ladies put their all into it, with the result that it doesn't matter that much if the viewer misses some of the translations into English at the bottom of the screen. The ladies just take the viewer with them enabling you to realise instinctively what is going on. Konstanze's love interest, Belmonte, well sung and performed by Christoph Strehl, comes across as a diffident character never quite sure of what he is doing or where he is going. It's all so true to life. It's nothing short of a miracle how Mozart understood humanity so very well and him dying when he was only 35.
Pedrillo, Belmont's manservant also employed as the pasha's gardener, delightfully played by Norbert Ernst, is rather small for his tall love interest, Blonde, but he was obviously chosen for his voice, suitability for the role and his acting ability. Franz-Josef Selig is perfect in the role of Osmin, the bossy palace overseer. I love the way he gets all upset at his desk and shouts and thumps around all over the place. Finally, there's his boss, the Pasha, perfectly acted by Christoph Quest. Both of these characters put on tantrums when they can't get their way with Konstanze and Blonde. Oh, Mozart, how well you understood human nature! Happily, this performance is worthy of the great man's genius.
One of the special delights of this performance is how the choir, on the two occasions when it is used, is an absolute delight when it sings from boxes at either side of the stage. Orchestration under the baton of Ivor Bolton is top grade and the stage direction by Christof Loy is of the best. I found that the Blu-ray disc plays well without problems of any kind. The humour in this work is subtle, but it's there all right, and this performance brings it out to a tee. It's an all time great.