The Abduction from the Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)

Jan 7th, 2013 | By | Category: Member Concerts, Program Notes

Scenes from Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio will be performed by Soprano, Carley Neill; Soprano, Kathrine O’Leary; Bass, Kenneth Woods; and Tenor, Robert Vann this January 12th. Accompanied by Luann Higgs on the piano.

This delightfully lighthearted and comic opera is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie. The plot concerns the attempt of Belmonte (the hero), assisted by his servant Pedrillo, to rescue his beloved Konstanze from the seraglio (the sequestered living quarters used by wives and concubines in an Ottoman household) of the Pasha Selim.

Synopsis

The women's quarters in a Seraglio, as depicted by John Frederick Lewis

Place: the country house of the Pasha (German “Bassa”), in Turkey
Time: 18th century

Act 1

Belmonte enters, looking for his betrothed, Konstanze, who with her English servant Blonde has fallen into the hands of pirates and been sold to the Pasha Selim (Aria: “Hier soll ich dich denn sehen” – “Here surely I must find her”).[26] Osmin, the Pasha’s bad-tempered servant, comes to pluck figs in the garden and completely ignores Belmonte’s questions (Aria: “Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden” – “You may think, you’ve found a maiden”). Belmonte tries to obtain news of his servant, Pedrillo, who has been captured with the women and is serving as a servant in the Pasha’s palace. Osmin replies with insults and abuse (Duet: “Verwünscht seist du samt deinem Liede!” – “The devil take you and your song, sir”). Belmonte leaves in disgust. Pedrillo enters and Osmin rages at him, vowing to get him tortured and killed in many different ways (Aria: “Solche hergelaufne Laffen” – “These young men who go a-spying”). Osmin leaves and Belmonte enters and happily reunites with Pedrillo. Together they resolve to rescue Konstanze and Pedrillo’s fiancée, Blonde, who is Konstanze’s servant (Aria: “Konstanze, Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen … O wie ängstlich” – “Konstanze, Konstanze, to see thee again … Oh what trembling”).

Accompanied by a chorus of Janissaries (“Singt dem großen Bassa Lieder” – “Sing to the mighty Pasha Selim”) the Pasha Selim appears with Konstanze, for whose love he strives in vain (Aria of Konstanze: “Ach ich liebte” – “How I loved him”). Pedrillo tricks the Pasha into hiring Belmonte as an architect. When Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, Osmin bars their way, but they hurry past him anyway (Terzett: “Marsch! Trollt euch fort!” – “March! March! March!”).

Act 2

Blonde repulses the rough lovemaking attempts of Osmin (Aria: “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” – “With smiles and kind caresses”), and threatens to scratch out his eyes. After a duet (“Ich gehe, doch rate ich dir” – “I’m going, but mark what I say”), Osmin departs. Konstanze greets Blonde in distress (Aria: “Welcher Wechsel herrscht in meiner Seele … Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose” – “Oh what sorrow overwhelms my spirit … Endless grief tortures my spirit”), informing her that Selim demands her love and threatens to use force (Aria: “Martern aller Arten” – “Tortures unrelenting.”)

When she has gone, Pedrillo comes to Blonde, who is his sweetheart, and informs her that Belmonte has come and is planning to rescue them. Blonde is filled with joy. (Aria: “Welche Wonne, welche Lust” – “Oh, the happy, happy day”). Pedrillo invites Osmin to drink, hoping that he will become intoxicated (Aria: “Frisch zum Kampfe” – “Now Pedrillo, now for battle!”; Duet: “Vivat Bacchus! Bacchus lebe!” – “‘Here’s to Bacchus, long live Bacchus”). When Osmin has drunk himself into a stupor, the two couples reunite (Quartet, Belmonte, Konstanze, Pedrillo, Blonde: “Ach Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben” – “Ah, Belmonte, ah my dear one!”). Belmonte and Pedrillo both question anxiously whether their respective fiancees have remained faithful during their forced separation; to their delight the women respond with indignation and dismay. They forgive the offensive questions and the curtain falls.

Act 3

Belmonte and Pedrillo come to the garden with ladders (Aria, Belmonte: “Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke” – “Love, only love, can now direct me”; Romanze, Pedrillo: “In Mohrenland gefangen war” – “In Moorish lands a maiden fair”). However, they and the women are caught by Osmin, who rouses the castle (Aria: “Ha, wie will ich triumphieren” – “My triumphant hour’s approaching”). Belmonte pleads for their lives and tells Selim Pasha that his father is a Spanish Grandee and Governor of Oran, named Lostados, who will pay a generous ransom. Unfortunately, Pasha Selim and Lostados are long-standing enemies. The Pasha rejoices in the opportunity to kill his enemy’s son. He leaves Belmonte and Konstanze to bid each other a last farewell (Duet: “Welch ein Geschick! O Qual der Seele” – “What dreadful fate conspires against us”), but when he returns, he decides he can make a better point against Lostados by releasing Belmonte and his friends. All are set at liberty – much to the dismay of Osmin, who would prefer to see them all brutally executed (Finale: “Nie werd’ ich deine Huld verkennen” – “Your noble mercy passes measure”).

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