|Pasha Selim||Don Crerar|
Peter McGowan, Felicity Merchant, Bob Moore, Susan Moore, Helen Ryan, Adrian Slatter, Madeleine Smart
Stage director Susan Moore, Music director Jim Petts, Costume design Helen Ryan.
JIM: "Too many notes, m'dear Mozart!" So Emperor Joseph II of Austria is reputed to have told the composer after the premiere of The Abduction from the Seraglio at the Vienna Burgtheater in July 1782. (It's also worth noting that the opera was a great hit in houses across the Habsburg empire.)
Seraglio is quite a radical undertaking for an amateur opera group as the music is challenging to say the least. Early performances may have been shorter than today's definitive versions, but there is no doubt that some arias including Constanze's "Martern aller Arten" (tortures of all kinds) are of stunning difficulty, length and complexity.
There was a lot of adjustment, cutting, and rewriting to get it within the bounds of possibility, and this process was aided by our accompanist Oliver Williams, whose indefatigable good humour and incredible musical knowledge made it all possible.
SUSAN: Presenting an opera of this magnitude on a small stage certainly has its challenges!
I took as my inspiration the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul with its magnificent seraglio.
The story unfolds in the garden of the Pasha Selim's palace, and most of the comings and goings focussed on the palace entrance. Some arrivals and departures, like Belmonte's at the start of the opera, used the hall's central aisle due to space limitations, but the story of Constanze trapped in a seraglio, refusing to accept the advances of the wealthy Pasha and escaping with her brave lover, could still be well told in the fine setting of the Great Hall.
Photos —Dress rehearsal and matinee