Opera Profile: Mozart’s ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’

By David Salazar

There are only a select few of Mozart’s operas that get the same buzz as the Da Ponte trio of works.

Among them is his 1782 opera, “Die Entführung aus dem Serail.” The work, which premiered on July 16, 1782, is one of two singspiel operas by the legendary composer that still gets continually performed in opera houses around the world. The opera famously appeared in the film “Amadeus,” where the composer was ridiculed for writing “too many notes.”

Brief Plot Summary

The opera follows Belmonte as he travels to Turkey to free his beloved Konstanze from the grasps of the Pasha Selim. He encounters Osmin, the Pasha’s servant, who ignores his requests. Eventually, with the help of his servant Pedrillo, Belmonte manages to get into the palace. Pedrillo is trying to also get his beloved Blonde out of the clutches of Osmin, who pines over her. The same goes for the Pasha who tries to win Konstanze’s affection.

But she loves Belmonte and rejects his advances. Eventually, the quartet concocts a plan of escape, which is foiled by Osmin and the Pasha. Eventually, the Pasha sets them free and they run off on their way to their homeland.

Famous Musical Numbers

Since it is a singspiel, the work lacks recitatives. But it is not without its plethora of famed arias, especially Konstanze’s “Martern aller Arten” which not only features solo instruments in the orchestra, a lengthy introduction and blazing coloratura passages that push the soprano to her virtuosic best.

Osmin’s “O, wie will ich triumphieren” is also known for pushing the bass to a low D, one of the lowest notes in all of opera. The tenor has the famed “Konstanze, Konstanze… O wie ängstlich.”

Famed Interpreters

The opera has been sung by a number of famed artists. Fritz Wunderlich, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Rolando Villazón, Edita Gruberová, Franz-Josef Selig, Ian Bostridge, Kathleen Battle, Robert Lloyd, Nicolai Gedda, Luigi Alva, Fernando Corena, and Diana Damrau are among the famed interpreters who have also committed the work to recording.

Listen and Watch 

There are a lot of offerings with regard to this opera on both video and audio recordings. But for our taste, there are few artists so riveting in this opera as Wunderlich. There are a few recordings but this live performance from 1965 is quite spectacular and showcases the tenor’s unrivaled ability in this repertoire. Annelise Rothenberger is also quite spectacular as Konstanze.


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