Thursday, 23 July 2015

Catholic boy gone bad and the quality of mercy (Glyndebourne/Entführung)

Mozart, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Robin Ticciati cond. Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, Glyndebourne Festvial)

Beyond a shadow of doubt, in the current Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Glyndebourne has hit upon a real classic. Firstly, Vicki Mortimer’s set – with competitive and destructive gardening, an amusing bed,  a shimmering sea, and the production values to be expected. The generous stage seems enormous through a number of clever devices such as sheets and doors. Secondly, this wonderful set is used to draw out the pure Mozartian comedy. The ladder scene at the end seems just out of the Flute. Thirdly, there is a genuinely emotional and surprising climax, which gives the whole thing depth.  Fourthly a beautiful account of the music from the OAE under Ticciati clips along thoughtfully at a decent pace, as we would expect of Ticciati. Period instruments only add the joy of the score. Ticciati suggested the opening bars are like the stalls at a Turkish Market in an Evening Standard interview. This gives some idea of care and interpretation.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Act III scene.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Act III scene. Photographer: Richard Hubert Smith.
The lighting by Paule Constable is perfect – not too much but bright enough to see everything and highly atmospheric.
The voices were all very good, but most importantly well-cast and well-matched. The quartet at the core of things: Belmonte (Edgaras Montvidas), Pedrillo (Brenden Gunnell), Konstanze (Sally Matthews), Blonde (Mari Eriksmoen) were wonderful. Non-singing Pasha Selim (Franck Saurel)
What of the dialogue? Some have criticized the inclusion of all the dialogue. The box office wrote, emailed and telephoned to warn me of the earlier start to accommodate it. Not a word could fairly be cut, to my mind, as a completist generally.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Act III scene.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Pedrillo (Brenden Gunnell). Photographer: Richard Hubert Smith.
The uneasy bit is the use of Oriental stereotypes. There’s a touch too of Carry on about aspects of it- perhaps both in the work and the production. The granting of mercy by the Pasha at the end – despite  Belmonte’s father having wronged him so badly is utterly thrilling. This seems a highly progressive view until you recollect that the Pasha was born Catholic and it can be read as a Christian act. Do unto others, &c. &c. Not so radical after all.
Everything was perfect -even the weather after the wind died down. 
In short: classic a Glyndebourne classic
Still at the festival; on tour this year; available online until 26 July. Also at the Proms. 
Images from a gallery here.
Cast and credits:
Creative team
Conductor Robin Ticciati
Director David McVicar
Designer Vicki Mortimer
Choreographer Andrew George
Lighting Designer Paule Constable
Belmonte Edgaras Montvidas
Osmin Tobias Kehrer
Pedrillo Brenden Gunnell
Pasha Selim Franck Saurel
Konstanze Sally Matthews
Blonde Mari Eriksmoen
Klaas, a sea captian Jonas Cradock
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus

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