[Met Performance] CID:259180
New production
Die Entführung aus dem Serail {6} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/12/1979.

(Debuts: Norma Burrowes, Norbert Orth

Metropolitan Opera House
October 12, 1979
New production


Constanze...............Edda Moser
Belmonte................Nicolai Gedda
Blonde..................Norma Burrowes [Debut]
Pedrillo................Norbert Orth [Debut]
Osmin...................Kurt Moll
Selim...................Werner Klemperer

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............John Dexter
Designer................Jocelyn Herbert
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Die Entführung aus dem Serail received eleven performances this season.

Production gift of the Edith C. Blum Foundation

Review of Robert Jacobson in "Opera News"

"Die Entführung aus dem Serail" lit up the Met stage during October, a single comedy set amid a plethora of heavy works - and amazingly enough, the opera's first resurfacing there since '46-'47 (premiere Oct. 12, heard 16). "Entführung" so delights one musically that with many of the elements of the Met production it fell brightly on the ear and occasionally on the eye as well. James Levine's reading of the 1782 score was felicitous in every respect, sensitive to Mozartean line, filled with color and vitality and always at one with his singers, youthfully exuberant and committed. John Dexter's direction offered no particular point of view; singers arrived and departed at their appointed times, and one sensed that each had forged whatever character he could without a directorial overview. For Acts I and III Jocelyn Herbert provided lovely simplicity on a raked stage that spilled over the orchestra pit, creating immediacy of contact with the audience. Set against a brilliant blue cyclorama, her tiled Eastern architectural cutout façades spoke of taste and whimsy, offering an uncluttered performing platform, disappointing only in the confused Japanese-like Act II garden. Her elegant black-and-white gowns for Constanze contrasted nicely with the bright oranges, pinks, purples and reds of the Pasha's court.

Vocal honors went to debutante Norma Burrowes as Blonde and bass Kurt Moll as Osmin. The soprano's crystalline voice and charming presence made her work a joy, her singing facile and captivating. Moll's cushy bass like deep sable, encompassed the extremes, while his acting had expansiveness, richness of character and a notable lack of tired, obvious effects. Newcomer Norbert Orth provided a strong, well-focused German tenor as Pedrillo, and actor Werner Klemperer offered an authoritative if joyless, undynamic Pasha Selim.

Severe problems afflicted the two lovers, Constanze and Belmonte, in the hands of Eda Moser and Nicolai Gedda. The soprano now seems to have but remnants of a once imposing voice and technique, her singing unsteady, out of tune, often precarious, relying on trickery and bearing no signs of tonal beauty. Her stolid interpretation may have been the result of intense concentration on merely getting out the notes. The best came in light pianissimo passages, but the cruel demands of "Martern aller Arten" found the tone frazzled, the air desperate. Gedda remains such a consummate artist that he ploughed through Belmonte's music, including the Act III "Ich baue ganz," with style, taste, intelligence and elegance, lightening his tenor and placing it high to cope with the demands. Still, of pure tone there was little, and the reinstated aria evinced hard labor.

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