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Seraglio review at Theatre Royal Glasgow

Pricked through with vocal dexterities that heighten Mozart’s musical characterisation, this is a production that suffers somewhat from its move from the Dutch Nationale Reisopera to Scottish Opera. The trickiness comes not in the modern English rendition of the lyrics – which are often mere pointers to the true drama, which lies in the music. It is in the accents given to those lyrics by the Dutch soloists and the completely incomprehensible chorus who sing from the pit.

Some level of other-ness is necessary in the themes of retribution and forgiveness, as Spanish Nobleman Belmonte attempts to free his Konstanze from the harem of Turkish prince Bassa Selim. Yet, if there is too much, as there is here, it gets in the way of the performance. As does the slightly overpowering orchestra.

Other elements are much more satisfactory, however. Director Tobias Hoheisel’s minimal set allows the focus to fall on the character and emotional development. While the cut from three to two acts, breaking after Julia Borchert’s beautifully fluid rendition of Konstanze’s defiant declaration that she prefers death to succumbing to Thomas Gerber’s sympathetically created Bassa, works with the drama of the piece.

Dimitry Ivashchenko clearly relishes the weight of wickedness as harem overseer, Osmin. Rebecca Bottone brings out the clarity and gaiety of Blonde, Konstanze’s maid, that gives light to the shade of her mistresses predicament. Just perhaps, you imagine, she finds pleasure in her tussles with Osmin and, if Eberhard Lorenz’s sincere Pedrillo were not around, she would enjoy taming him.

Production Information

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, October 19-November 3, then touring until November 29

Composer
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductors
Jeremy Carnall, James Grossmith
Directors
Tobias Hoheisel, Imogen Kogge
Producers
Scottish Opera, Nationale Reisopera
Cast includes
Eric Laporte, Dimitry Ivashchenko, Eberhard Lorenz, Julia Borchert, Thomas Gerber, Rebecca Bottone
Running time
2hrs 40mins