Thursday, October 25, 2012

Die Entführung aus dem Serail – Bayerischer Staatsoper, Munich, 1980 (Part 2: It Must Never Excite Disgust)

(This is actually the quartet at the end of Act 3)
I’d forgotten how much beautiful music there is in this opera. My current favorite is the quartet at the end of Act 2. The nobles and servants each get slightly different styles of music, although when the men beg forgiveness, Pedrillo takes his cues from Belmonte, and echos his entreaties. This scene could be the basis for a whole opera, and the conflict is over pretty fast. But I don’t thing Mozart meant us to take this story very seriously.

My second favorite bit is Blonde’s Welche wonne, welche lust.  She is so excited and happy she keeps getting in her own way. Each time we think she’s leaving the stage, she comes back with another thought. It’s clear Pedrillo wants her to get moving. Finally he picks her up and carries her off stage. Speaking of Pedrillo, poor Norbert Orth is the  only singer not mentioned in all the blurbs. He comes across as character tenor; and apparently went on to become a Heldentenor; he seems a little rough on Mozart, but he makes an impish and fun Pedrillo.

Pedrillo is thinking, "Shut up and go, already!"

Osmin’s character definitely buffo here: all bluster and not much action. He talks about torture and stuff, but one feels his heart’s not in it. In a letter Mozart described Osmin’s rage music as going beyond the boundaries of reason, but he adds that “passions, whether violent or not, must never be expressed in such a way as to excite disgust…” (Hear that, Mr. Bieito?) I think he really does love Blonde, and is truly sad when she leaves. 

“I’m sadder than you are”
So, the approach to this staging by August Everding is fairly light. The only exception is the Pasha Selim. This is one sad dude–always slouching about and looking unhappy. He and Konstanze seem to be in a competition to see who's life is sadder. I think his love for her, and his unwillingness to force her fascinates Konstanze. Although he does make one show of aggression during the introduction to Martern aller Arten, he is generally pretty passive (or at most passive/aggressive.)  During the final chorus of the opera, Konstanze moves as if to speak to Selim once more, seems to think better of it, and leaves with Belmonte. Was she having second thoughts about going? The opera ends with Selim alone at center stage.

Pasha Selim is noble, but he's not happy about it.

Overall, this is a pretty fluffy interpretation, taking Mozart’s cues that the show is not supposed to be too serious.  There is no real social commentary other than Pasha magnanimously forgiving his enemy, though he seems cranky about it, sort of like Tito in some productions of La Clemenza di... The production is representative but not literal. It's nice to look at, and there’s lots of good music and fine singing, and an opportunity to hear the great Mozart conductor Karl Böhm at the helm. Francisco Araiza, Reri Grist, Martti Tavela, and Edita Gruberova ably demonstrate their skills as Mozart singers.  I highly recommend this for folks who are seeking a “traditional” Entführung.

Meanwhile, since my Entführung post of a week or so ago, I have had a chance to view the Herheim M22 (the one with social commentary but no plot) and the Neuenfels Stuttgart (the one with the double cast that says "Hey! We're all in an opera!") productions. I will be back with more on both of those soon.

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