Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Bel Air Classiques
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
PERFORMER: Shahrokh Moshkin-Ghalam, Malin Hartelius, Magali Leeger, Matthias Klink, Loïc Félix, Wojtek Smilek; Europa Chor Akademie; Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski; dir. Jérôme Deschamps, Macha Makeïeff (Aix-en-Provence, 2004)
CATALOGUE NO: BAC 028 (NTSC system; dts 5.0; 16:9 picture ratio)
Filmed at the Aix Festival in 2004, this production of Mozart’s opera is broadly traditional, being set in Turkey and in period. In an interview printed in the booklet, the directorial duo describe a production somewhat more pretentious and less interesting than the one we actually see, whose real virtues are eminently theatrical. There’s a general air of fairy-tale fantasy.

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But however one views the clash of cultures and religions that underpins the plot, it cannot be ignored. Nor is it here: a troupe of actors is in attendance as vassals to the Turkish Pasha, both disdaining and spying on the European interlopers/slaves, and Wojtek Smilek’s cavernous-voiced Osmin is appropriately watchful.

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Musical values are high under conductor Mark Minkowski and the standard of singing strong without being outstanding. Malin Hartelius’s Konstanze is impressive, while Matthias Klink’s foppish Belmonte is pleasantly sung, though his tone’s a little wiry. The Blonde/Pedrillo servant couple, played by Magali Léger and Loïc Félix, are both entirely charming. But the most remarkable performance comes from the Iranian actor/dancer Shahrokh Moshkin-Ghalam in the spoken role of the Pasha, whose essential (if tested) nobility is clearly revealed in his stance and facial expressions. At his entrance and at the close of the opera, Moshkin-Ghalam dances in an extraordinary fashion that is riveting on screen and must have been electrifying in the theatre. It seems to encapsulate both the character’s final self-triumph and the separateness of his cultural standpoint. But this is more than a star turn; it’s part and parcel of a vividly theatrical conception. George Hall