At the order of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed Die “Entführung aus dem Serail”, the piece that lead to his artistic and musical breakthrough. Its purpose was to create a counterpart to the grand Italian opera, which was widely popular in Vienna at that time. The work was a great success, repeatedly performed throughout Vienna and its surroundings during Mozart`s lifetime. “Die Entführung” was and still is one of the most popular „sung plays“ in operatic history. The opera Singspiel is appreciated as a masterpiece that contains the full range from vivid sparkle and comedy right up to drama and intense emotions.
So what`s happening? Basically, the plot is the following: Konstanze, her maid Blonde and Pedrillo, Blonde`s lover, are imprisoned in the empire of Pasha Selim, a powerful ruler. Belmonte, in love with Konstanze, spares no effort to free and rescue her and the other two. However, brave Belmonte is ignored by Osmin, the Pasha`s servant, who refuses him admittance. Belmonte manages to get to talk to Pedrillo, his friend and prisoner of the Pasha – eventually, they gain entrance to the empire. The two men try to make a plan on escaping from the Seraglio with the women, which at first seems to work, but: finally, they all get caught by Osmin. Though both couples sadly expect to be sentenced to death in the end, Pasha Selim rejects vengeance, does not take revenge and lets the four protagonists leave his empire.
“The music`s sparkling quality was an association to something very light”, says director Michael Schachermaier about his access to the piece, which he eventually found through Mozart`s music. Very light it is, indeed – a feast of sparkling energy, amazingly well-elaborated light effects and vivd comedy. Schachermaier tries to create a fantasy world, where – especially in Pasha Selim`s palace – light rules, everything is lit and golden colour is supposed to cover the reality, in order to turn it into something beautiful. Designer Jessica Rockstroh chooses a half-rounded and lightly raised platform, which is strictly separated from the stage`s surroundings by huge more or less white-transprent cloths. Furthermore, a web made of chains of lights functions as a dome which can be lit and moved as well as turned from a light heaven into a prison for the escaping.
It is not for nothing that this outstanding production is cheered by the opening night`s audience, for not only the two couples, but also Selim, Osmin, the choir and the orchestra are in finest fettle. Leading lady and „primadonna“ Anna Rajah is – even if a very restrained – Konstanze. Though her sound is freighted with tremolo, one gets used to her very own timbre after some time and learns to love Rajah`s very expressional top notes and impressive piani. She is loved and wanted to be rescued by „Belmonte“ Simon Bode, who satisfies with his incredibly warm tenor and pure ornaments and coloratura, even though one very soon realizes that the young singer maybe suffers from his lack of breathe-support, particularly in the higher register. Mathias Frey performs Pedrillo and proves himself to be a very fine singer with an immensely beautiful lyric tenor and terrific acting skills. Unfortunately, the orchestra drowns his voice in some moments, which is, however, the result of many factors, not specifically the singer himself. Anyway, the strong sounds from the orchestra pit do not belittle his excellent vocal performance not in the least. The maid Blonde is sung by Amelia Scicolone – she is a vivid, alluring firework of comedy, overwhelming joy and acting and talent and also possesses – as well as Belmonte and Pedrillo – the unbelieveable physical power and flexibility required for this production. So, Scicolone is jumping and hopping across the stage in high heels while singing heavenly top notes – chapeau! Osmin is ingeniously played and marvelously sung by Raphael Sigling. His bass is well-bodied with an endlessly wide (required!) range, which the singer can take advantage of because of his fine vocal technique. Eventually, there is the Pasha, spoken by Pascal Lalo, who embodies the powerful emperor of light and darkness – and does it justice. Stadttheater Klagenfurt`s choir (leader: Günther Wallner) including its four soloists) is in prime condition, as well as the KSO (Carinthian Symphony Orchestra), which is joyfully and colorfully playing and celebrating Maestro Mozart`s genius under the baton of “rising star” Giedre Slekyte. The young Lithuanian talent conducts the KSO very feisty and yet tries to never let emotions gain the upper hand – which really does affect the musical quality in a good way: strictly led by accuracy and precision, never overwhelmed by feelings, Slekyte brings out the very best in every singer and musician. Appropriate applause for a successful opening!