WOW! What a performance by the Hungarian State Opera!
Tonight’s opera was my favorite so far. The plot is easy enough to follow and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s brilliant opera which premiered in Vienna 230 years ago continues to entertain! Tonight I find myself with a new found sense of respect for Mozart and for the Royal Opera House Muscat. Before tonight, my knowledge of Mozart might have been limited to this Falco classic from the 80’s (half-jokingly):
“The Abduction from the Seraglio” (which could also be titled “Escape from a Harlem“) comes with much controversy. I am fascinated with the decision of the Royal Opera House Muscat to choose this opera. I’m sure that the Hungarian State Opera had to do much planning to avoid any serious cultural faux-pas when presenting this opera here in a Muslim nation. The plot, you see, revolves around 2 Christian maidens being sold to a Muslim regent of high repute after their ship was taken by pirates. Their brave Christian sweethearts dare to attempt a rescue and even manage to get the servant drunk in hopes that his intoxication will lay the grounds for their escape! In the end, Pasha Selim sets them all free even though his servant mourns the lost opportunity to slay them all, especially the sweetheart of the English slavegirl he has come to love called “Blonde”. That’s quite a story to perform in Muscat, Oman, don’t you think?! 🙂
Csaba Kael, Director of the Performance and General Manager of Palace of Arts Budapest eloquently wrote for the opera’s program: “…The geniality of Mozart is not only expressed throughout his music but in his dramaturgical sensitivity as well. Pasha Selim was introduced in the epochal Europe as a noble, wise personality of the Muslim culture. The Pasha in the Opera is an enlightened regent who understands the strength of love and makes a wise decision by giving back the freedom of Konstanze and Belmonte. This freedom coming from the real meeting point of our cultures shall bring forward our relationship, with the hope that we can show the world with common productions as well, promoting the strength of culture and humanity originating from our common values.” This was on the 2nd page of the program under the page titled “Culture is a Meeting Point of Our Human Values.”
Take note of the new subtitle screen above the stage at ROHM. Great move! There is still the option of watching subtitles on the seat infront of each audience member but this larger screen just above the stage makes viewing even more enjoyable!
Here are some funny and/or unforgettable lines:
“First you’ll be beheaded, then you’ll be hanged, then impaled on red hot spikes, then burned, then manacled and drowned; finally flayed alive.”
“With tenderness and pretty words, kindness and pleasantries, it is easy to conquer good girls’ hearts…But surely commands, banging about, nagging, tormenting, will result, in a few days, in love and fidelity departing.”
“Tenderness?! Pretty words?! You forget that this is Turkey!”
“He who has found a sweetheart who is faithful and true, must reward her with a thousand kisses; must make her life a delight, must be her comforter and friend.” (Amen!)
“Girls are not goods that can be given away as presents. I am an Englishwoman, born to be free, and I defy anyone who would attempt to coerce me!”
“A heart born to freedom will never submit to slavery.”
“Only one thing might make me tremble…If I were to be unfaithful.” (What a beautiful line!)
“How could you believe that anyone could steal this heart which beats for you alone?” (Another beautiful line!)
“Long live love. Let us value nothing else!”
“Oh Love, I build upon Your strength. I rely upon Your power; Consider what works have been achieved by You! What all the world thinks impossible is possible with You.”
“… it is a far greater pleasure to repay injustices suffered by good deeds than to compensate evil by more evil.” (Surely borrowed from Matthew 5:43-48!)
“Nothing is as loathsome as revenge; but to be humane and kind and to forgive without self-interest – Only a great soul is capable of that.”
And the best line from the opera, “O Englishmen, what fools you are to let your women have their own way!” (Haha! Just kidding!)
The actor playing Bassa Selim, Franz Tscherne, never actually sang. There was quite a bit of non-singing dialogue in this production of Mozart’s.
There was an announcement that the lead female singer, Elena Mosuc, playing the role of Konstanze, was sick but would still sing and asked for the audience’s understanding and patience. She ended up singing beautifully! Our friends were joking during the 1st intermission that singers should announce that at each performance because their singing will seem all the more beautiful. 😉
The singer, Kurt Rydl, who played the role of Osmin, the assistant to Pasha stole the show with his singing and acting. Of course the fact that his role is such a hilarious one surely helps! What an incredible performer! He definitely had the loudest applause during the curtain call. The other singers were incredible as well including Rainer Trost as “Belmonte”, Rita Raez as “Blond”, and Peter Balezo as “Pedrillo”. The best parts by far were when more than one singer would sing at the same time like Osmin, Pedrillo and Belmonte singing together comically at the end of Act 1 and when the quartet of Belmonte, Konstanze, Pedrillo and Blonde sign their beautiful song in Act 2 questioning whether the ladies had remained faithful during their imprisonment. (“Ach Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben.” “Ah, Belmonte, ah my dear one!”)
Bravo, Hungarian State Opera! Bravo, Palace of Arts Budapest! Bravo, Royal Opera House Muscat! 🙂