With Die Entführung aus dem Serail
, Mozart and Stephanie took up a story which had been popular as a Singspiel
subject for some time1
- indeed, Bretzner's original libretto, Belmont und Konstanze
had already been set to music in Berlin by the composer, Johann André. The stock plot concerns a pair of separated lovers who find each other in slavery in a Middle Eastern setting, are caught while trying to escape, and finally return to their homeland, thanks to the magnanimity of a Turkish ruler.
The opera was a huge success, despite the Emperor Joseph II's (possibly apocryphal) complaint that the work had "too many notes". The first two performances brought in the substantial sum of 1200 florins, three times Mozart's salary from his old job in Salzburg. The work was repeatedly performed in Vienna during Mozart's lifetime, and throughout German-speaking Europe.
Perhaps the most famous aria in the opera is Konstanze's elaborate "Martern aller Arten" ("Tortures of all kinds"), an infamous obstacle course for coloratura sopranos. In the aria, Konstanze sings in a kind of sinfonia concertante
with four solo players from the orchestra. (Mozart admitted that he had 'sacrificed' the role a little to 'the flexible throat of Mlle Cavalieri', the renowned first interpreter of the role). Two remarkable young sopranos from the University of Cape Town Opera School will alternate in the role in this production: Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, second prize winner in the recent SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition, and Siyasanga Mbuyazwe, last seen in the title role of Hendrik Hofmeyr's Saartjie
in 2010's 5:20
. Other cast members from the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Studio and the UCT Opera School include Maudee Montierre, the winner of the Western Art Music category in the SAMRO Competition, who shares the high-flying role of Konstanze's English maid Blonde with Lynelle Kenned, who recently appeared as Cherubino in the UCT production of Le nozze di Figaro
, at Brown University, USA.
The production will be given a "pirate flair", with sets and costumes by talented young designer Tina Driedijk, who recently scored a great success with her imaginative designs for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress
. The Pasha Selim will become a Jack Sparrow-esque pirate, with Belmonte as the dashing hero who rescues Konstanze, Blonde and Pedrillo from the pirate ship lying at anchor in a hidden cove. Lucky he received the message in a bottle from Pedrillo....
|Konstanze||Hlengiwe Mkhawanazi, Siyasanga Mbuyazwe|
|Blonde||Lynelle Kenned, Maudee Montierre|
|Belmonte||Thembinkosi Mgetyengama, Lukhanyo Moyake|
|Pedrillo||Siphesihle Mdena, Xolani Madalane|
|Pasha Selim||Armand Aucamp|
|Orchestra:||Cape Philharmonic Orchestra|
|Lighting Design:||Nicholas Tilney|
6, 8, 10-12 November 2011, 19h30 - Artscape Theatre - Book at Computicket