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Mozart: Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail / Bolton, Damrau, Peretyatko, Strehl

Release Date: 02/28/2012 
Label:  C Major   Catalog #: 709108  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Franz-Josef SeligDiana DamrauChristoph StrehlOlga Peretyatko,   ... 
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu OrchestraBarcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 3 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray


MOZART Die Entfuhrüng aus dem Serail Ivor Bolton, cond; Diana Damrau ( Konstanze ); Christoph Strehl ( Belmonte ); Olga Peretyatko ( Blonde ); Franz-Josef Selig ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Osmin ); Norbert Ernst ( Pedrillo ); Christoph Quest ( Selim ); Gran Teatro del Liceu SO & Ch C MAJOR 709108 (2 DVDs: 188: 00); C MAJOR 709204 (Blu-ray: 188:00) Live: Barcelona 2010

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (The Escape from the Seraglio) is one of my favorite operas because of the music of Mozart, but finding a good production of it, especially on DVD, is difficult. This German singspiel requires a first-rate coloratura soprano who also handles lyrical passages well and can meld her voice into ensemble pieces, a semi-comedic bass with a low-lying range, and a believable nonsinging actor in the prominent role of Pasha Selim. Arias are in the Baroque tradition of expressing emotions and not advancing the rather shopworn plot. The story is of Western women held captive in a Turkish harem and the attempt to rescue them. This particular libretto is hampered by long bouts of dull spiel between the sing , and the dialog is usually trimmed in performance to more quickly get back to Mozart’s top-notch score. Instead of “too many notes,” the Emperor Joseph II’s criticism to the young composer should have been “too much talking, my dear Mozart!”

This 2010 production from the Liceu in Barcelona has all the necessary singers and a good Pasha Selim in place. Musically, this release ranks with the best I have seen or heard. Especially noteworthy is the Konstanze of German coloratura Diana Damrau, one of the finest singers on the opera scene today and one of the few who has all the goods to succeed in this role. Her “Martern aller Arten” is particularly outstanding and somewhat of an athletic triumph with all the stage business she is given to do. Damrau decorates the repeat sections in uniquely fine fashion. The German bass Franz-Josef Selig is also excellent as the majordomo, Osmin. Selig’s rich, chocolate-hued vocalism brings the part to musical life, although Mozart’s lowest notes still challenge his limits. Sweet-toned tenor Christoph Strehl sings Belmonte’s arias very well in act I but seems to tire and strain as the performance wears on. The second romantic pair of Blonde and Pedrillo are sung excellently by Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko and light tenor Norbert Ernst, and actor Christoph Quest provides plenty of believable emotion as the Pasha. The Liceu Orchestra plays Mozart very well under conductor Ivor Bolton and becomes a vital component to the visual and vocal elements on stage, as Mozart intended.

Unfortunately, this Christof Loy production, first seen at La Monnaie in Brussels in 1999, is a visual disappointment. Staged on a small raised platform at the front of the stage with only a table and a few chairs with a blue, cloud-studded sky backdrop, there is only the one set; no Turkish palaces or turbans are in evidence, although some vaguely Middle Eastern costumes are worn by the chorus. The principal singers wear quasi-modern dress in basic black and white. Loy and Bolton give us all the dialog and all the musical numbers, so the opera runs over three hours without breaks. The dialog is spoken in a conversational manner with numerous pregnant pauses to heighten the emotional tension between parties. Loy resurrects the concept that not only Konstanze but also Blonde are conflicted by awakening feelings for the new men in their lives, although there is absolutely no basis for it in text or score. It has to be mimed in with stage action, and Loy gives us plenty of that, especially in the climactic act I scene between Konstanze and Selim and her following pyrotechnic anger aria, “Martern aller Arten.” The actual escape attempt is handled rather cleverly by a blacked-out stage with some confused flashing lights back and forth. When the stage lights come back on, the four culprits are already seated facing an angry Osmin. The forgiving act of benevolence by Selim in the finale, as in many productions, seems a bit anticlimactic.

To my mind we are still waiting for a top performance of Entfurung on video. Some of the earlier sets have their moments but are hampered by less than state-of-the-art sound and video quality. The 2004 film Mozart in Turkey by director Elijah Moshinsky contains much that is fine but it is severely cut and is interspersed with rehearsal sequences and comments from the director. I have not seen the 2002 release from the Maggio Musicale with Zubin Mehta, praised by Colin Fleming in Fanfare 30:5, but I find it doubtful that sopranos Eva Mei and Patrizia Ciofi match the duo of Damrau and Peretyatko seen here. If you want some fine singing and musicality and are unfazed by director Loy’s idiosyncrasies, this DVD will give you much pleasure and virtually all of the opera. It also is available in high-definition Blu-Ray, which will be the standard video medium before long.

FANFARE: Bill White


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Selim – Christoph Quest
Konstanze – Diana Damrau
Blonde – Olga Peretyatko
Belmonte – Christoph Strehl
Pedrillo – Norbert Ernst
Osmin – Franz-Josef Selig

Liceu Grand Theatre Chorus and Orchestra
Ivor Bolton, conductor

Christof Loy, stage director
Herbert Murauer, set and costume designer
Olaf Winter, lighting designer

Recorded live at the Grand Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 2011

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Catalan, Chinese, Korean
Running time: 188 mins
No. of DVDs: 2
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Works on This Recording

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K 384 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Franz-Josef Selig (Bass), Diana Damrau (Soprano), Christoph Strehl (Tenor),
Olga Peretyatko (Soprano), Norbert Ernst (Tenor)
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 

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