COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LABELS: C Major
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail
WORKS: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail
PERFORMER: Christoph Quest, Diana Damrau, Olga Peretyatko, Christoph Strehl, Norbert Ernst, Franz-Joseph Selig; Gran Teatre del Liceu Symphony & Chorus/Ivor Bolton; dir. Christof Loy
CATALOGUE NO: 709108; 709204
This production, as captured on DVD, or more vividly on Blu-ray, took me by surprise on two counts: it made me think much more highly of the work and its director, Christof Loy. His productions at Covent Garden, of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Berg’s Lulu, seemed infuriatingly pointless and irrelevant. But in this Die Entführung aus dem Serail everything is germane to the text that Mozart set, and Loy makes work of depth and strong emotion from what can seem like an overlong comedy.
The first stroke of genius is to get Christoph Quest, a great actor, to play Pasha Selim. His character is a spoken role, yet he is at the centre of the action. Quest is so potent a presence that one never regrets his lack of music. The other five performers are magnificent singers, with Diana Damrau sensational in the immense ‘Martern aller Arten’ – and she manages to act throughout while performing all those vocal pyrotechnics. Her maid, Blonde, taken by Olga Peretyatko, is almost as impressive, and the only singer who could be improved is Franz-Josef Selig, whose voice lacks the weight for Osmin, though he undoubtedly acts with superb relish.
As usual with Loy and his team, the staging consists almost entirely of plain wooden chairs, and the singers all wear suits. I think the idea is not so much to set the action in the present, as to avoid any distractions caused by fancy dress. It works splendidly here, since every singer acts with the intensity and conviction of a ‘straight’ actor. Ivor Bolton’s conducting is relaxed and affectionate, and really there is no respect in which this performance falls short of being a triumph.