Strehler’s Abduction from the Seraglio

qcco_-_mozartThe recent Cmajor/Rai Com/Teatro alla Scala release of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail as a double DVD is a welcome addition to any opera collector’s library. The reasons are many, among them that this is a faithful reenactment of the note-perfect 1965 staging by the master director Giorgio Strehler, created then for the Salzburg Festival. Secondly, the conductor: Zubin Mehta brought back on board to lead the superb La Scala orchestra and a cast of rising young Mozart.

The visual aspects of the production are exquisite as well, starting with the impeccably designed and period-perfect costumes of Sybille Ulsamer. The chiaroscuro lighting of Marco Filibeck does wonders for the settings of Carla Ceravolo, and the revival of Strehler’s original production is faithfully brought back to life by stage director Mattia Testi.

Mauro Peter sings elegantly as Belmonte and behaves on stage as if to the manner born. Bass Tobias Kehrer is a competent singer with more weight in the middle voice than in the bottom range so essential to the role of Osmin. The Pedrillo is sung by Maximilian Schmitt with more voice than what is usually brought by singers of this role. And he is a good comic.

Dutch soprano Lenneke Ruiten has both the vocal heft and the agility demanded by all her arias and the essential dignity and noble bearing demanded by the role of Constanze. French soprano Sabine Devielhe is a splendid spitfire Blonde, good to look at and listen to. Cornelius Obonya acts with dignity as Pasha Selim.

Maestro Mehta conducts with Mozartian clarity and accompanies the singers never once overbearing them. Most significantly, Strehler’s production provides a lesson in operatic stage direction which this writer wishes that all stage directors hell-bent on improving and updating the great work of the 18th and 19th century would assimilate.

Rafael de Acha          http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com

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