[Met Performance] CID:267970
Die Entführung aus dem Serail {17} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/22/1982.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 22, 1982


Constanze...............Edda Moser
Belmonte................Stuart Burrows
Blonde..................Kathleen Battle
Pedrillo................Philip Creech
Osmin...................Martti Talvela
Selim...................Werner Klemperer

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

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

Die Entführung aus dem Serail received seven performances this season.

Review of Bill Zakariasen in the Daily News

Met's 'Seraglio' a Joy of Comedy

Mozart's comic gem, "The Abduction from the Seraglio," returned to the Metropolitan Opera repertory Monday night after a season's absence. In the cast of six, three singers were new to their rôles, with chief interest being directed toward basso Martti Talvela as the blustering overseer of the harem, Osmin.

Talvela reportedly considers Osmin his favorite rôle, and one can easily see why. The opportunities for riotous comedy are in abundance, yet there is always an undercurrent of pathos in the character waiting to be brought out by an artist who can recognize it. Talvela did just that, and this sensitivity, plus his gigantic height, worked beautifully in his favor. He was especially effective in the scene where Osmin attempts to put the make on the petite Blondchen (Kathleen Battle) - in his intentionally awkward protestations, he made us feel genuinely sorry for the poor guy. His booming voice was in fine estate as well.

Tenor Stuart Burrows was the new Belmonte, and he proved an able Mozart stylist - that is, if one considers musicianship to be more important than charm. Looking oddly like Peter Ustinov, he was rather stuffy in manner, and he accented this with monochromatic vocal delivery.

The role of Pedrillo gives opportunities for stealing the show from the lead tenor, and Philip Creech took full advantage of them. He presented a thoroughly engaging portrait of the rascally servant (his drunk scene with Talvela was a riot), and he negotiated the vocal hurdles of "Frisch zum Kampfe" with ease.

In cast repeaters, Edda Moser once again sang Constanze with a harsh, unyielding vocal quality which reminded one of a bad acoustic record. Battle was her usual delectable self as Blondchen, and Werner Klemperer was an authoritative Pasha Selim. James Levine's conducting was over-pressed at times - for example, the headlong tempo he adopted for the third-act Constanze-Belmonte duet guaranteed turning it into a caterwauling contest, even if he had singers on the level of Maria Cebotari and Richard Tauber in the rôles.

Review of Harriet Johnson in The New York Post

Captivating 'Abduction'

Though harems are illegal in our town the Metropolitan Opera is rash enough to have one on stage in "The Abduction From the Seraglio," and I must say that set and costume designer Jocelyn Herbert has made the milieu pretty tempting.

The Mozart farcical comedy about the wheelings and dealings of the Pasha Selim, a Turk of high rank, and his overseer, Osmin, may not be his best music, but still the great genius often shines and James Levine, who conducted, makes the most of it. This is one of Levine's happiest moments in the pit, and though the cast was not uniformly excellent, the maestro's exuberance together with his feathery touch compensated for a lot.

New in the fall of 1979, the John Dexter production, wears well with its cloud-capped graceful towers that scintillate in the distance while a crescent moon, balconies and ladders help the intrigues to alternate between frustration and hope.

In this" Die Entführung Aus dem Serail," sung in German, with spoken dialogue, the speaking manages to be vastly amusing, despite the foreign tongue. This success against odds is due in large measure to the cast's ability to be devastatingly funny.

Leading the list is 6-foot-7 inch Martti Talvela as Osmin, who tries to get delectable Kathleen Battle as Blonchen in his clutches. But she, being very much her own Western girl, calls him old Grouch and lets him know she is born to freedom and not to be peddled. Miss Battle's singing and acting throughout are a delight.

Tenor Stuart Burrows as Belmonte made a handsome figure and he sang well though too heavily at times especially, in the long, difficult Act III aria. As Pedrillo, Belmonte's servant, a captive in the harem, and in love with Blonchen, Philip Creech acted with an engaging verve and his voice rang out strongly if without much subtlety.

Werner Klemperer has returned to repeat his speaking part performed here in 1979.

The serious disappointment of the [first performance] the other night, the first time the work has been seen here since the 1979-80 season, was Edda Moser in the taxing role' of Konstanze, Belmonte's sweetheart, whom the Pasha is yearning to keep for his own in the harem.

Miss Moser's voice was so unsteady it was hard to differentiate her straight singing from her trills and the latter weren't very good. She looked appealing in Herbert's charming costumes but she simply wasn't vocally adequate.

Not having a convincing Konstanze is a major loss, but the night is bright enough anyway and with six repeat performances listed before the season ends April 17, the time to revel in some delicious Mozart is now.

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