Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
PERFORMER: Yelda Kodalli, Paul Groves, Désirée Rancatore, Peter Rose, Lynton Atkinson, Oliver Tobias; Scottish CO & Chorus/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80544
When Mozart composed Die Entführung he could count on the services of some of the finest singers of the day. The central part of Konstanze, with its spectacular range of more than two octaves, was tailor-made for Caterina Cavalieri and what Mozart called her ‘supple throat’. For Belmonte, Mozart had his lyric tenor friend Johann Valentin Adamberger; and for the ill-tempered Osmin (what other opera begins with a eunuch picking figs?), the commanding basso profundo voice of Ludwig Finscher. From Mozart’s correspondence we know how carefully he crafted Belmonte’s music. ‘You see the trembling – the faltering,’ he proudly told his father. ‘You hear the whispering and sighing, which is expressed by the first violins with mutes, and the flute playing in unison.’

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This, in short, is a Singspiel which needs strong characterisation from the participants; and it is here that this new recording – sympathetically conducted by Mackerras – seems to me to fall down. The two tenors are rather colourless, and both sound strained at the top of their range; and Peter Rose’s Osmin, though well sung, lacks any sense of menace. The women are better, though the Konstanze of Yelda Kodalli is upstaged by her maid Blonde (the impressive Désirée Rancatore). The DG version conducted – somewhat stolidly – by Karl Böhm is much more strongly cast, with Arleen Auger a deeply affecting Konstanze, and Peter Schreier an ardent Belmonte, though it suffers from the schizophrenic ‘double cast’ syndrome, with actors stepping in for the spoken dialogue. Choice between Böhm and the theatrically livelier Gardiner (DG Archiv) is not easy, though in the end Böhm’s singers just carry the day. Misha Donat