English Touring Opera’s autumn tour celebrates the German form of Singspiel – opera with spoken dialogue – with works by Mozart and Kurt Weill.
First up is Stephen Medcalf’s production of Mozart’s culture-class comedy set in the palace of Pasha Selim on the Turkish coast, where Muslim and Christian values are exposed and challenged. At the close, Selim takes the moral high ground by forgiving the Christians who have wronged him. Delivered by actor Alex Andreou in his spoken role, it’s a moving moment.
Adam Wiltshire has designed a handsome set, authentically colourful, but also reminding us that the Pasha’s seraglio (or harem) is equally a prison. Ideal for touring purposes, it swivels around to offer interiors and exteriors. His costumes are classically elegant.
Medcalf maintains a fine blend of lively humour laced with threat throughout. Selim’s henchman (and alter ego?) Osmin is full of dire schemes for torturing the recalcitrant Christians, however comically delivered.
There are strong vocal values throughout, especially from Lucy Hall’s Konstanze. Determined to resist Selim’s amorous proposals whatever the cost, she moves confidently around the tricky notes while doing so.
She’s nicely matched by Nazan Fikret’s sparky Blonde, having fun as she deals effectively with Osmin’s importunate bullying. With his resounding bass, Matthew Stiff gives the much-caricatured Turkish overseer a real sense of menace.
A regular with the company, John-Colyn Gyeantey develops increasing fluency as Konstanze’s Spanish lover Belmonte, ably aided and abetted by fellow tenor Richard Pinkstone’s somewhat daffy Pedrillo.
John Andrews conducts an impeccably vital and stylish account, with the company’s 30-piece orchestra showing complete mastery of the score.