Composer: WolfgangAmadeus Mozart
Conductor: Christoph Altstaedt
Revival director: Ian Rutherford
Reviewer: Karen Bussell
Second up on the Glyndebourne Tour 2015 is pure Turkish delight – David McVicar’s new production of Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, first shown at this year’s Glyndebourne Festival.
Mozart’s first comic opera reflects 18thCenturyEurope’s obsession with all things Ottoman as the lovelorn Belmonte plots to rescue Konstanze and two servants from the Pascha’s harem.
McVicar has excelled with a frothy knockabout comedy juxtapositioned with moments of deep sensuality and seriousness, the difficult spoken parts handled adroitly and spot-on acting by all. The clash of cultures is handled sensitively by sticking closely to the original and setting it in keeping with its 1782 first production.
Outstanding in all departments is debutant soprano Rebecca Nelsen as the feisty cart-wheeling Blonde resilient to slavery, a spitfire when angered and keen to impose Western manners on her surly, hothead master (clearly in name only) Osmin.
Bass Clive Bayley brings great fun and menace to the part of the Pascha’s bloodthirsty henchman. His mellifluous tones bring light and dark to the piece and he beautifully holds a careful line between slapstick and murderous intent.
Ana Maria Labin is a regal Konstanze, clearly not immune to the smouldering sensuality of the Pasca, her Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose heartrending and Martern aller Arten defiant.
Ben Bliss makes a tremendous Glyndebourne debut as her beau, the drippy idealistic Belmonte, occasionally drowned by an exuberant orchestra but whose beautiful tones are particularly showcased in a tender O wie angstlich. Completing the main line-up is tenor James Kryshak as an athletic Pedrillo, a dynamic counterpoint to his staid master adding richness to the myriad duos, trios and quartets which abound in Mozart’s soaring score.
Vocally challenging with folksy fun, Janissary jangling, soaring Italianate arias and more, there are no weak links although the superb company was missed having only a small part to play.
Peppered with actors and speaking only parts, McVicar balances this well and Franck Saurel, formerly of Theatre du Soleil, is an inspired casting as Pasha Selim oozing sex appeal, menace, frustration and compassion.
Runs until 28 November 2015 and continues to tour | Image:Clive Barda