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Repertoire

An illustration of the women's quarters in a seraglio, by John Frederick Lewis (1873) [Source: Wikipedia]
03 Apr 2020

MOZART: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Berlin 1949)

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Singspiel in 3 Acts.

Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Libretto by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie the Younger, based on an earlier libretto by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Sari Barabas (Constanze), Anton Dermota (Belmonte), Rita Streich (Blonde), Helmut Krebs (Pedrillo), Josef Greindl (Osmin), Ernst Dernburg (Pasha Selim), RIAS-Kammerchor und RIAS-Sinfonieorchester, Ferenc Fricsay (cond.)
Live recording, 19-21 December 1949, Berlin

Above: An illustration of the women's quarters in a seraglio, by John Frederick Lewis (1873) [Source: Wikipedia]

 

First Performance: 16 July 1782, Burgtheater, Vienna.

Principal Characters:
Selim, Pasha Nonsinging role
Constanze, a Spanish lady and Belmonte's bethrothed Soprano
Blonde, Constanze's English maid Soprano
Belmonte, a Spanish nobleman Tenor
Pedrillo, Belmonte's servant and now supervisor of the Pasha's gardens Tenor
Osmin, overseer of the Pasha's country palace Bass
Klaas, a sailor Nonsinging role
Mute, Osmin's servant Nonsinging role

Setting: The country palace of Pasha Selim.

Synopsis:

Background to the story

This is the tale of Constanze and Belmonte, two young Spaniards of noble birth. Constanze, her English maid, Blonde, and Pedrillo, Belmonte’s servant, fell into the hands of pirates who attacked their ship. The pirates sold their captives at a slave market to Pasha Selim. After month of searching for them in despair, tormented by not knowing what had become of his beloved Constanze and the two servants, Belmonte sets out to find them.

Act One

Belmonte has arrived on the distant Turkish shore and approaches the high wall surrounding the seraglio. Here he encounters Osmin, the Pasha’s right-hand man, and questions him about the people he is seeking. Osmin, however, has not the slightest intention of giving this stranger any information whatsoever and sends him on his way.

Belmonte continues to look for a way to get into the seraglio.Through a prison window, he manages to catch a glimpse of Pedrillo. This confirms that Constanze and Blonde are also being held prisoner in the harem.

Pasha Selim has chosen Constanze to be the object of his affections. He visits the harem every day and does everything in his power to persuade her into accepting his suit. Constanze remains steadfast in adamantly refusing to succumb. She has no idea yet that her beloved Belmonte is so near.

Meanwhile, Belmonte has disguised himself as an architect an enters the First Courtyard of the seraglio. He teams up with Pedrillo and together they try to get past Osmin into the Second Courtyard.

Act Two

Osmin has taken a fancy to Blonde, but his persistent advances are met with resistance by the young English woman. The two of them are involved in constant battles of wit, which Osmin just can’t win.

Constanze makes it increasingly difficult for the Pasha to approach her and he finally loses patience. He threatens to punish her if she does not soon accept his suit.

Blonde learns about the plan for their escape from Pedrillo. Before they can put the plan into action, however, they first have to outwit Osmin. Pedrillo manages to persuade Osmin to help him empty a bottle of wine and the latter then falls into a deep sleep. The two couples are able to meet and plan their escape.

Act Three

Belmonte, still disguised as an architect, smuggles Pedrillo out of the Seraglio and they head for Belmonte’s ship. There they wait for night to fall.

At midnight, Belmonte and Pedrillo row round the coast to the foot of the harem. Pedrillo serenades his Blonde as a signal. Osmin discovers them in the boat and sends a fleet of ships out to capture them again.

The death penalty awaits them, but Pasha Selim decides to forgo revenge and sets the captives free.

[Synopsis Source: Bayerische Staatsoper]

Click here for the complete libretto.

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