[Met Performance] CID:290660

Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, November 26, 1987

Debut : Erie Mills

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (40)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Christophe Friedrich Bretzner/Gottlieb Stephanie
Zdzislawa Donat

Gösta Winbergh

Erie Mills [Debut]

Heinz Zednik

Matti Salminen

Nico Castel

Marek Janowski

John Dexter

Jocelyn Herbert

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Die Entführung aus dem Serail received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Leighton Kerner in the Village Voice, December 15, 1987

In case the general run of performances over the last several weeks has led you to believe taste and style had deserted the Met-how could have one thought otherwise?-consider the redemptive revival of John Dexter's 1979 production of Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. The comic romantic opera that Mozart composed at age 26 has retained a good deal of its original freshness and fun even in less than ideal circumstances of singing and staging, but on November 30 at the second of this season's all too limited five performances, the circumstances were close to ideal.

No, the night wasn't flawless. The production had originally been planned as a vehicle for Joan Sutherland, but the great Australian singer declined the spectacular role of Konstanze before rehearsals started, and the no longer formidable Edda Moser took her place. Moser's successors over the years were no improvement, and that goes, to some extent, for this season's contender, Poland's Zdzislawa Donat, whose soprano has the right weight, gleam, and agility for the notoriously virtuosic heroine but lacks control at the top. In other words, Donat would soar to the heights of "Ach ich liebte" and "Marten aller Arten" and then crest either disturbingly too loud or too soft, making a shambles of the climactic phrase. And that brief phrase would be nonetheless the keystone without which the aria's arch would collapse. But Donat proved otherwise a good musician and actress. Her Polish accent did make mincemeat of the German spoken dialogue, but her grace of movement and demeanor compensated. And her top-range dynamics notwithstanding, she otherwise sang better than any other Konstanze of Dexter's production.

Everything else about the performance was delightful. Succeeding James Levine on the podium, Marek Janowski gave us a lighter-weight but still sufficiently glowing Mozart. The janissary music romped with a nice mix of piccolo and percussion, and the pizzicato accompaniment to Pedrillo's hauntingly moonstruck serenade was the soul of delicacy. The program printers didn't bother to credit the four orchestral soloists in the long concerto-like introduction to "Marten aller Arten"-violinist Raymond Gniewek, cellist Jerry Grossman, flutist Michael Parloff, oboist Elaine Douvas-but despite the anonymity they played splendidly.

Gösta Winbergh's sweetly textured, smallish, but still Mozart-size tenor carried Belmonte's arias-both tender and florid-easily through the longest and most elaborate phrases. Matti Salminen's uniquely rich and plangent bass projected Osmin's fury and bluster with such wit that it was easy to forgive the lack of steam when his music stretched down to low D. (I doubt that any bass of our time can really clinch the role's whole range.) And if Erie Mills, in her Met debut role, strained a bit for her high E, she filled Blondchen's other requirements with optimum verve. Heinz Zednik has been known in this part of the world exclusively as a Wagnerian character-tenor: a Mime of energy and pathos, for most conspicuous instance. But his Pedrillo was a model of Mozartian vocal style and comic timing, and I yearn to hear and see his Basilio in Figaro or Monostatos in Zauberfiöte. And to round out the cast, Nico Castel once again imbued the non-singing part of Pasha Selim with a movingly understated, almost laconic sense of humor.

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