The Abduction from the Seraglio

The Abduction from the Seraglio
By Mozart. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: Greg Hocking. The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. February 3, 5 & 9, 2016

Seraglio is one of Mozart’s lesser-known works and is a throwback to earlier times with few roles, lots of arias and few ensembles. So the spotlight is fully on the soloists, and Eddie Muliaumaseli’i impressed in the low bass role of Osmin. His voice was big and beautiful and all the low notes were there.

Similarly, popular soprano Lee Abrahmsen shone as Konstanze, one of the most demanding roles in the Mozart canon. Her voice was unfailingly rich and beautiful and her acting was passionate. As her lover, Belmonte, international tenor Christopher Lincoln Bogg appeared to be suffering, betrayed by a huskiness in some of his singing and dialogue. His Konstanze wasn’t always able to reign in her substantial instrument to allow for a good balance. However, they made a credible couple.

Paul Biencourt was a very funny Pedrillo and worked well with Hannah Dahlenburg. Her bright coloratura had no difficulty with the treacherously high role of Blonde. Nick Pelomis was strong in the non-singing role of Pasha Selim.

I’d never seen this opera updated, but it worked well. Set in the 1970s, Pasha Selim was a secretive billionaire with his own secret island in the Mediterranean who kidnapped women as a hobby. Very James Bond. With Konstanze being a German opera diva and Belmonte a British aristocrat, it worked having them as an older couple, and having an aria or two in German in this English production.

In spite of the updating, the sets were quite colourful, as were the costumes. The orchestra was supportive, though sometimes a bit strong. A very enjoyable night at the opera.

Graham Ford

Photographer: Robin Halls

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