He was young, free of the domination of his Salzburg master, the archbishop, and in love with Constanze Weber, who would soon become his bride. He had also completed a German singspiel (an opera with spoken dialogue) called the “The Abduction From the Seraglio,” commissioned for his newly adopted city of Vienna. And while the work lacks the emotional depth and orchestral texturing that would define his later operas, “The Abduction” abounds in “Turkish” pomp, several stunning arias, and a climactic second-act quartet that is Mozart at his best. And while none of these connections were planned, they became a topic of conversation during the opera’s two intermissions as people checked their smartphones for the latest updates.Meanwhile, back in the 18th century, Mozart was flying high in 1782.
The clever cut-away set design by Allen Moyer depicts the carriage’s interior and servant’s quarters, as station platforms and farmlands glide by the windows. As the opera begins, Belmonte has arrived at the Pasha’s palace determined to rescue his beloved.LA Opera’s production, however, follows a different set of tracks. It is also a classic “rescue opera.” Belmonte and Konstanze, a pair of Spanish nobles, have been separated after the ship carrying her was attacked by pirates, resulting in her being sold (along with her maid, Blonde, and Belmonte’s servant, Pedrillo) to the Muslim potentate, Pasha Selim. Originally produced in 1998 by Houston Grand Opera, the action takes place in the Pasha’s private car aboard the Orient Express as it makes its way from Istanbul to Paris.
★★★½When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16; 2 p.m. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.Running time: 2 hrs., 55 mins., with two intermissions.Suitability: Not appropriate for younger children.Information: 213-972-8001, www.laopera.org. Saturday, Wednesday and Feb. 12 and 19.Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N.
THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO
Current politics and 18th- century opera collided Saturday as Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio.”Updated to the 1920s and set aboard the Orient Express, it was impossible not to make a connection between Mozart’s “refugees” crossing borders between the Muslim East and Christian West at the same time a similar drama was playing out at airports across the country. It also gave added resonance to the opera’s final proclamation that ultimately, forgiveness is more powerful than vengeance.
Accentuated by the fine, mostly young cast, (costumed by Anna R. Unfortunately, James Robinson’s otherwise able direction at times degenerates into silliness akin to the Marx Brothers on the Orient Express.Tenor Joel Prieto, a dapper college student armed with tennis racket and ukulele, plays the ardent Belmonte. Whether it entirely makes sense proves less important than the antics and abundance of lyricism that accompanies the journey. Oliver) and the pinpoint conducting of James Conlon, the production is a tasty Mozartian confection. He has deduced that his abducted love, Konstanze (sung mellifluously by soprano Sally Matthews), her servant, Blonde (the bright-voiced So Young Park), and his servant, Pedrillo (tenor Brenton Ryan), along with Pasha Selim (a speaking role played by Hamish Linklater), and his harem-keeper, Osmin (imposing bass, Morris Robinson) are all on board.