Spanish nobleman Belmonte goes undercover to rescue his kidnapped fiancée and her companions from slavery. In the end, they gain their freedom not by daring, but through an unexpected act of mercy.
Belmonte has received secret letters from Pedrillo, his personal attendant, telling a horrible tale: Belmonte’s fiancée, Konstanze, her English maid Blonde, and Pedrillo have all been kidnapped by pirates and sold as slaves to Selim, a Turkish Pasha (high-ranking officer).
The opera opens with Belmonte’s arrival at Selim’s estate. There, Belmonte secretly reunites with Pedrillo and learns that Selim intends to take Konstanze as one of his wives. For his part, Pedrillo has fallen in love with Blonde, and so is deeply distressed that she has been given as a personal slave to Osmin, Selim’s cruel overseer. The two men conspire to get Belmonte into the palace.
Selim reassures Konstanze that he will never force himself on her, yet he is mystified that her devotion to Belmonte drives her to choose slavery over a privileged life as his wife. Meanwhile, Osmin rages at Blonde’s rejection of him as a lover, and her stubborn refusal to accept a life of servitude.
Pedrillo introduces Belmonte to Selim as an architect hoping to work at the Palace. Having gained entry, Belmonte drugs Osmin, paving the way for a daring escape attempt. Unfortunately, Osmin recovers too soon and discovers the ladder that Konstanze has climbed down, sounding the alarm. The two couples are caught and hauled before Selim, with Osmin expressing his glee at their impending execution.
Revealing his identity as the son of Lostados, commander of the Spanish colony in Oran, Belmonte offers Selim a generous ransom. Unfortunately, Selim knows Lostados as a mortal enemy – the man who ruined his happy life in his Algerian homeland, forcing him to flee to Turkey. When Selim departs to ponder the most appropriate form of vengeance, all hope seems lost.
Yet to everyone’s surprise, Selim chooses to rise above cycles of retribution, granting the four captives their freedom in an extraordinary act of mercy. As Osmin furiously storms off, everyone else honours the Pasha in song before the lovers depart for home.
"The Abduction from the Seraglio"
Opera Singspiel in 3 acts
Sung in German
About 2 hours 20 min + intervals
The country house of the Pasha (German "Bassa")
16th century Turkey
After a lively overture, Belmonte enters, looking for his betrothed, Konstanze, who with her English servant Blonde has fallen into the hands of pirates and been sold to Pasha Selim (Aria: "Hier soll ich dich denn sehen" – "Here surely I must find her"). Osmin, the Pasha's bad-tempered servant, comes to pluck figs in the garden and contemptuously ignores Belmonte's questions (Aria: "Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden" – "You may think, you've found a maiden"). Belmonte tries to obtain news of his servant, Pedrillo, who has been captured with the women and is serving as a servant in the Pasha's palace. Osmin replies with insults and abuse (Duet: "Verwünscht seist du samt deinem Liede!" – "The devil take you and your song, sir"). Belmonte leaves in disgust. Pedrillo enters and Osmin rages at him, vowing to get him tortured and killed in many different ways (Aria: "Solche hergelaufne Laffen" – "These young men who go a-spying"). Osmin leaves and Belmonte enters and happily reunites with Pedrillo. Together they resolve to rescue Konstanze and Blonde, who is Pedrillo's fiancée (Aria: "Konstanze, Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen … O wie ängstlich" – "Konstanze, Konstanze, to see thee again … Oh what trembling").
Accompanied by a chorus of Janissaries ("Singt dem großen Bassa Lieder" – "Sing to the mighty Pasha Selim"), Pasha Selim appears with Konstanze, for whose love he strives in vain (Aria of Konstanze: "Ach ich liebte" – "How I loved him"). Pedrillo tricks the Pasha into hiring Belmonte as an architect. When Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, Osmin bars their way, but they hurry past him anyway (Terzett: "Marsch! Marsch! Marsch! Trollt euch fort!" – "March! March! March! Clear off!").
The Pasha has given Blonde to Osmin, to be his slave; however, she defiantly rebuffs her new master's rough lovemaking attempts (Aria: "Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln" – "With smiles and kind caresses"), threatens to scratch out his eyes, and chases him out of the room (Duet: "Ich gehe, doch rate ich dir" – "I'm going, but mark what I say"). Konstanze enters and greets Blonde in distress (Aria: "Welcher Wechsel herrscht in meiner Seele … Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose" – "Oh what sorrow overwhelms my spirit … Endless grief tortures my spirit"). The Pasha enters, demands her love, and threatens to use force, but she resolutely rejects him. (Aria: "Martern aller Arten" – "Tortures unrelenting") Left alone, he muses on her determination to remain chaste, which increases his desire for her.
Pedrillo informs Blonde that Belmonte has come and is planning to rescue them. Blonde is filled with joy. (Aria: "Welche Wonne, welche Lust" – "Oh, the happy, happy day"). After singing a short ditty to boost his courage (Aria: "Frisch zum Kampfe" – "Now Pedrillo, now for battle!"), Pedrillo invites Osmin to drink (Duet: "Vivat Bacchus! Bacchus lebe!" – "Here's to Bacchus, long live Bacchus"). Despite his religious prohibition against alcoholic beverages, Osmin drinks heavily and falls asleep. Konstanze joins Belmonte who declares his love (Aria: "Wenn der Freude Tränen fließen" – "When tears of joy flow"). The two couples reunite (Quartet, Belmonte, Konstanze, Pedrillo, Blonde: "Ach Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben" – "Ah, Belmonte, ah my dear one!"). After their initial expressions of love and joy, Belmonte and Pedrillo both question anxiously whether their respective fiancees have remained faithful during their forced separation; to their delight the women respond with indignation and dismay, and Blonde slaps Pedrillo's face. The two men apologize for their failure of confidence; the women forgive them for the offensive questions.
Belmonte and Pedrillo come to the garden with ladders (Aria, Belmonte: "Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke" – "Love, only love, can now direct me"). Pedrillo gets the attention of the women by singing a ballad about a rescue similar to the one he is planning (Romanze, Pedrillo: "In Mohrenland gefangen war" – "In Moorish lands a maiden fair"). However, Osmin enters, sees the ladders, and rouses the castle. Osmin exults in the prospect of seeing them all hanged (Aria: "O, wie will ich triumphieren" – "My triumphant hour's approaching"). Belmonte pleads for their lives and tells Pasha Selim that his father is a Spanish Grandee and Governor of Oran, named Lostados, and will pay a generous ransom. Unfortunately, Pasha Selim and Lostados are long-standing enemies. The Pasha rejoices in the opportunity to subject his enemy's son to a horrible death. He leaves Belmonte and Konstanze to bid each other a last farewell; they lovingly assure each other that being tortured to death will be a pleasure, so long as they get tortured to death together (Duet: "Welch ein Geschick! O Qual der Seele.... Weh, du soltest für mich sterben" – "What dreadful fate conspires against us.... Woe, you will die because of me"). However, the Pasha decides that he can make a better point against Lostados by showing mercy and releasing Belmonte and his friends. All are set at liberty – much to the dismay of Osmin, who would prefer to see them all brutally executed (Finale: "Nie werd' ich deine Huld verkennen" – "Your noble mercy passes measure").
Belmonte - Tenor (leggiero)
A Spanish nobleman
Konstanze – Soprano (dramatic coloratura)
Betrothed to Belmonte
Blonde (Blondchen) – Soprano (soubrette)
Konstanze's English maid
Pedrillo – Tenor (lyric, buffo)
Osmin – Bass (lyric basso profondo)
Overseer for the Pasha
Bassa Selim – Spoken
Klaas - Spoken
Place of birth: Salzburg, Austria
Place of death: Vienna, Austria
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer widely known as one of the greatest composers of all time. He is the the archetype of the classical period together with his contemporaries Haydn and Beethoven. He was a versatile composer writing operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano works, concertos and much more. In his short life he wrote more than 600 works.
Mozart began playing the harpsichord at the age of three and started composing at the age of five. During his childhood he went on tour with his sister, who was also a child prodigy, and his father, Leopold, performing in Europe.
He married into the Weber family. Together with his wife Constanze they had six children of whom two survived infancy.
In 1781 Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna. The last 10 years of his life were very productive. His most popular operas; Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte were all written during this period. The three first are also known as the “Da Ponte” operas with reference to the librettist.
“What's even worse than a flute? - Two flutes!“
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.“
Mozart had lots of pet animals and was very fond of scatological humour.
Most prominent operas
Bastien und Bastienne 1768
Lucio Silla 1772
La finta giardiniera 1774
Die Entführung aus dem Serail 1782
Der Schauspieldirektor 1786
Le nozze di Figaro 1786
Don Giovanni 1787
Così fan tutte 1789
Die Zauberflöte 1791
La clemenza di Tito 1791
The libretto was written by Gottlieb Stephanie, an Austrian librettist, playwright and director. It is based on Belmont und Constanze oder Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner.
Stephanie is most known for writing the libretto for Die Entführung aus dem Serail but he also wrote the libretto for Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor.
2d1, 2, 2d1 (basset horn), 2 - 2, 2, 3, 0
timp, perc, harp, piano, strings
The opera premiered at the Vienna Burgtheater in 1782 with Mozart himself conducting. It was a big success leading to many performances both in Vienna, Austria, and other German speaking countries throughout Mozart's life.
Today it is one of the 30 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria - Hier soll ich denn sehen (Belmonte)
Aria, duet – Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden (Osmin, Belmonte)
Aria – Solche hergelaufne Laffen (Osmin)
Aria - Ach, ich liebte, war so glücklich (Konstanze)
Aria – Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln (Blondchen)
Duet – Ich gehe, doch rate ich dir (Osmin, Blondchen)
Aria – Welcher Wechsel herrscht in meiner Seele... Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose (Konstanze)
Aria – Martern aller Arten (Konstanze)
Aria – Welche Wonne, welche Lust (Blondchen)
Aria – O, wie will ich triumphieren (Osmin)