The Abduction from the Seraglio

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
To

New COC Production

Cultures collide in Mozart’s singspiel, but real division is difficult to define. The story of European captives of a Muslim pasha in the Ottoman Empire, Abduction is ripe with the possibility of violent confrontation. But celebrated Lebanese-Canadian writer Wajdi Mouawad's direction deftly avoids caricature, and the brilliant humanity of Mozart’s characters shines in a new way


Details

Running Time (estimated): Three hours, 20 minutes including one intermission.

On stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen St. W., Toronto.

Sung in German with English SURTITLES™.


Cast and CREATIVE TEAMS
Konstanze Jane Archibald*
Belmonte Mauro Peter
Blonde  Claire de Sévigné
Pedrillo Owen McCausland
Osmin Goran Jurić
Bassa Selim Raphael Weinstock

Conductor Johannes Debus
Director Wajdi Mouawad
Set Designer Emannuel Clolus
Costume Designer Emmanuelle Thomas
Revival Lighting Designer Valérie Nègre
Lighting Designer Eric Champoux
Price Family Chorus Master* Sandra Horst

*Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price

With the COC Orchestra and Chorus
*COC 2017/2018 Artist-in-Residence

Synopsis

OPERA IN A MINUTE

Konstanze and her maid, Blonde, are captured by pirates and sold into slavery to the Pasha Selim in Turkey. Pasha falls in love with Konstanze while the overseer of the palace, Osmin, develops affection for Blonde. Also in captivity is Pedrillo, the servant of Konstanze’s fiancé, Belmonte. After two years go by, Belmonte arrives at the palace to rescue his fiancé and the others, but it’s clear that the women have changed in the meantime, forging strong relationships with their captors. When the escape plan fails, Selim condemns the Europeans to death, but then changes course towards clemency.

FULL-LENGTH SYNOPSIS

I. (PROLOGUE) THE TURK’S HEAD

Belmonte’s father gives a party* at his home in Vienna to celebrate the return of his son, Konstanze, Pedrillo and Blonde from captivity. After extolling the virtues of Western Enlightenment, he invites his guests to play a game at the expense of “those frightful Mohammedans”—a fairgrounds game called “The Turk’s Head.”

* By exploring the future beyond the end of the opera, we can see how the protagonists view their adventures in the East and their escape from the Pasha’s harem (seraglio).

II. OVERTURE

The game does not appeal to either Konstanze or her maid, Blonde: “We cannot disparage people we know!” The two years they spent in the seraglio have transformed them: the discovery of a culture, a human adventure. Konstanze asks Belmonte to tell the story of his trip, and she will tell hers and “maybe we can understand what this adventure has done to us.”

ACT I

II. BELMONTE’S ARRIVAL

He arrived, destitute, in an unknown and threatening world. In front of the palace of Pasha Selim where he believes Konstanze is held captive, Belmonte expresses his anguish and his hope for her rescue.

III. OSMIN

Osmin, the Pasha’s overseer, although surly, confirms that this is indeed the Pasha’s palace and that he detests Pedrillo.

IV. OSMIN AGAINST PEDRILLO

At the party in Vienna, Blonde recalls Osmin’s true love for her, and her own love for Pedrillo. At the palace of Selim, Osmin, it seems, is a rival with Pedrillo for Blonde’s love. Osmin threatens Pedrillo with terrible punishments.

V. REUNION

Belmonte finds his former servant, Pedrillo, who informs Belmonte that he, Blonde, and Konstanze were bought by the Pasha, and the Pasha has made Konstanze his favourite. The Pasha also offered Blonde to Osmin. “So many things have upset us since we have been here! Blonde and I were forced to convert—we have to pray five times a day, and have been initiated into a world that goes from right to left when we go from left to right! Everything is different, everything is shocking! And the hardest thing to recognize is that they are not as barbaric as we have always believed.” Belmonte announces that he has a boat waiting which will take them all to safety. But before they can do that, they have to gain the confidence of the Pasha. Pedrillo suggests that he will present Belmonte as an architect, so that he can live in the palace. He also says that the Pasha will arrive soon with Konstanze.

VIII. CONCERNS

Alone, knowing that he will soon see Konstanze again, Belmonte worries. He hides, as the Pasha arrives.

IX. SELIM’S ENTRANCE

The Pasha Selim enters accompanied by Konstanze and is greeted by his Janissaries (an elite military group of troops and bodyguards).

X. LOVE DOES NOT DIMINISH

Selim sees the sadness of Konstanze. He knows that despite his power, he cannot force her heart. Konstanze tells him that it is her love for another and her pledge of fidelity that keeps her from reciprocating. Selim is torn between generosity and his jealousy. Konstanze leaves him some hope by suggesting that she may have an answer for him the next day.

XI. AN ARCHITECT

At the party in Vienna, Konstanze tells Belmonte the disquiet she felt when confronted by Selim’s love and desire. The Turk’s head also had a heart! Pedrilllo presents Belmonte to Selim as a great architect who can serve the Pasha. Selim accepts the proposal and welcomes him into his household.

XII. ANGUISH

During the party, Konstanze explains her anxiety and past anguish to Belmonte. “To understand women in a world of men—no matter where in the world—we remain at the mercy of the will of the men.” She asks him to accept her as a woman different from the one he once knew, and the freedom to be loved as she sees fit.

XIII. THE PALACE GATES

Once Selim has left, Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, but Osmin bars the way and threatens them. They outmaneuver him and enter.

ACT II

XIII. BLONDE AND HER MEN

Blonde complains about her lovers, reminding them that it is through tenderness and love that you can conquer a woman’s heart, not through orders and anger. Blonde and Pedrilllo quarrel during the party. Osmin, she explains, was not a monster. “He aspired to greatness.” At the palace, Blonde and Osmin quarrel. He is no match for her and can only conclude that the English are too liberal with their women.

XIV. FRIENDSHIP

Konstanze unburdens herself to Blonde, despairing that Belmonte has not rescued her. Blonde supports her with her energy and her passion for freedom. “We once were mistress and servant; here we are two women, side by side.”

XV. THREATS

Selim enters to once more press his case with Konstanze, who remains adamant. He demands that she love him tomorrow, threatening torture and even a slow and painful death. But Konstanze is not swayed.

XVI. PRAYERS

Selim, horrified by the threats he has just uttered, is called away by muezzin. The hour of prayer will give him back some sanity. Meanwhile, Pedrillo alerts Blonde of the arrival of Belmonte and the planned escape for the coming night and asks her to warn Konstanze.

XVII. DOUBLES

During the party, Pedrillo remembers having second thoughts about escaping. There, as here, you must serve a master, but there is the sun, here it rains. But in thinking of his friends, he overcomes his doubts and decides to confront his enemy—Osmin.

XVIII. IN VINO VERITAS

Equipped with two bottles, Pedrillo manages to convince Osmin to drink with him. Osmin is quickly drunk, and Pedrilllo manages to get rid of him.

XIX. BACK TO THE BEGINNING

Konstanze and Belmonte finally meet and embrace each other. They are joined by Blonde and Pedrillo. The two couples express their happiness, a moment clouded by suspicion from Belmonte and Pedrillo: have their beloveds been faithful? Konstanze is in tears abd Blonde slaps Pedrillo, but they forgive and reconcile: “Long live love!”

ACT III

XX. THE EVENT OF THE TRUTH

During the party, Blonde and Konstanze remember with regret their confused feelings for Osmin and Selim.

XXI. LOVE IS MY GUIDE

Belmonte implores his case about the power of love, here at the party, as it was at the seraglio.

XXII. SIGNAL

In the middle of the night, Belmonte and Pedrillo are ready. They give the agreed-upon signal—the music of a mandolin and Pedrillo hums a romantic tune. The two women appear at the window, a ladder is placed, and Konstanze and Blonde descend.

XXIII. ONE STEP TOO FAR

While all are preparing to flee, they are stopped by Osmin and his janissaries. Belmonte tries to bribe him with a purse full of ducats, a gesture that Osmin refuses with indignation. He orders the two couples be taken before the Pasha. Then, alone, he is triumphant.

XXIV. A MAN WITHOUT PITY

The fugitives must explain themselves before the Pasha. Belmonte demands Selim’s largesse and proposes that his family, one of the richest in Spain, pay a ransom for their freedom. When he mentions his family’s name—Lostados, son of the governor of Oran—Selim declares that Belmonte’s father Lostados is his worst enemy, the man who heartlessly took everything away from Selim by stealing away the only woman he ever loved, Maria Magdalena de Heredia, Belmonte’s mother. Selim orders that the execution be prepared, despite the Osmin’s please for mercy: Blonde is pregnant, the baby she carries is innocent.

XXV. ADIEUX

Konstanze and Belmonte say their goodbyes, happy however to die together.

XXVI. THE CLEMENCY

Selim finally grants his pardons, not wanting to resemble Belmonte’s thoughtless father and to teach the Europeans a lesson in forbearance. Osmin, desperate, sees the one he loves depart in joy. All sing to the goodness, greatness, and nobility of Selim.

Gallery
A scene from the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
Jane Archibald (centre) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
Jane Archibald (centre) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
Jane Archibald (top right) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
  • Running Time (estimated): Three hours, 20 minutes including one intermission.

    On stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
    145 Queen St. W., Toronto.

    Sung in German with English SURTITLES™.


    Cast and CREATIVE TEAMS
    Konstanze Jane Archibald*
    Belmonte Mauro Peter
    Blonde  Claire de Sévigné
    Pedrillo Owen McCausland
    Osmin Goran Jurić
    Bassa Selim Raphael Weinstock

    Conductor Johannes Debus
    Director Wajdi Mouawad
    Set Designer Emannuel Clolus
    Costume Designer Emmanuelle Thomas
    Revival Lighting Designer Valérie Nègre
    Lighting Designer Eric Champoux
    Price Family Chorus Master* Sandra Horst

    *Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price

    With the COC Orchestra and Chorus
    *COC 2017/2018 Artist-in-Residence

  • OPERA IN A MINUTE

    Konstanze and her maid, Blonde, are captured by pirates and sold into slavery to the Pasha Selim in Turkey. Pasha falls in love with Konstanze while the overseer of the palace, Osmin, develops affection for Blonde. Also in captivity is Pedrillo, the servant of Konstanze’s fiancé, Belmonte. After two years go by, Belmonte arrives at the palace to rescue his fiancé and the others, but it’s clear that the women have changed in the meantime, forging strong relationships with their captors. When the escape plan fails, Selim condemns the Europeans to death, but then changes course towards clemency.

    FULL-LENGTH SYNOPSIS

    I. (PROLOGUE) THE TURK’S HEAD

    Belmonte’s father gives a party* at his home in Vienna to celebrate the return of his son, Konstanze, Pedrillo and Blonde from captivity. After extolling the virtues of Western Enlightenment, he invites his guests to play a game at the expense of “those frightful Mohammedans”—a fairgrounds game called “The Turk’s Head.”

    * By exploring the future beyond the end of the opera, we can see how the protagonists view their adventures in the East and their escape from the Pasha’s harem (seraglio).

    II. OVERTURE

    The game does not appeal to either Konstanze or her maid, Blonde: “We cannot disparage people we know!” The two years they spent in the seraglio have transformed them: the discovery of a culture, a human adventure. Konstanze asks Belmonte to tell the story of his trip, and she will tell hers and “maybe we can understand what this adventure has done to us.”

    ACT I

    II. BELMONTE’S ARRIVAL

    He arrived, destitute, in an unknown and threatening world. In front of the palace of Pasha Selim where he believes Konstanze is held captive, Belmonte expresses his anguish and his hope for her rescue.

    III. OSMIN

    Osmin, the Pasha’s overseer, although surly, confirms that this is indeed the Pasha’s palace and that he detests Pedrillo.

    IV. OSMIN AGAINST PEDRILLO

    At the party in Vienna, Blonde recalls Osmin’s true love for her, and her own love for Pedrillo. At the palace of Selim, Osmin, it seems, is a rival with Pedrillo for Blonde’s love. Osmin threatens Pedrillo with terrible punishments.

    V. REUNION

    Belmonte finds his former servant, Pedrillo, who informs Belmonte that he, Blonde, and Konstanze were bought by the Pasha, and the Pasha has made Konstanze his favourite. The Pasha also offered Blonde to Osmin. “So many things have upset us since we have been here! Blonde and I were forced to convert—we have to pray five times a day, and have been initiated into a world that goes from right to left when we go from left to right! Everything is different, everything is shocking! And the hardest thing to recognize is that they are not as barbaric as we have always believed.” Belmonte announces that he has a boat waiting which will take them all to safety. But before they can do that, they have to gain the confidence of the Pasha. Pedrillo suggests that he will present Belmonte as an architect, so that he can live in the palace. He also says that the Pasha will arrive soon with Konstanze.

    VIII. CONCERNS

    Alone, knowing that he will soon see Konstanze again, Belmonte worries. He hides, as the Pasha arrives.

    IX. SELIM’S ENTRANCE

    The Pasha Selim enters accompanied by Konstanze and is greeted by his Janissaries (an elite military group of troops and bodyguards).

    X. LOVE DOES NOT DIMINISH

    Selim sees the sadness of Konstanze. He knows that despite his power, he cannot force her heart. Konstanze tells him that it is her love for another and her pledge of fidelity that keeps her from reciprocating. Selim is torn between generosity and his jealousy. Konstanze leaves him some hope by suggesting that she may have an answer for him the next day.

    XI. AN ARCHITECT

    At the party in Vienna, Konstanze tells Belmonte the disquiet she felt when confronted by Selim’s love and desire. The Turk’s head also had a heart! Pedrilllo presents Belmonte to Selim as a great architect who can serve the Pasha. Selim accepts the proposal and welcomes him into his household.

    XII. ANGUISH

    During the party, Konstanze explains her anxiety and past anguish to Belmonte. “To understand women in a world of men—no matter where in the world—we remain at the mercy of the will of the men.” She asks him to accept her as a woman different from the one he once knew, and the freedom to be loved as she sees fit.

    XIII. THE PALACE GATES

    Once Selim has left, Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, but Osmin bars the way and threatens them. They outmaneuver him and enter.

    ACT II

    XIII. BLONDE AND HER MEN

    Blonde complains about her lovers, reminding them that it is through tenderness and love that you can conquer a woman’s heart, not through orders and anger. Blonde and Pedrilllo quarrel during the party. Osmin, she explains, was not a monster. “He aspired to greatness.” At the palace, Blonde and Osmin quarrel. He is no match for her and can only conclude that the English are too liberal with their women.

    XIV. FRIENDSHIP

    Konstanze unburdens herself to Blonde, despairing that Belmonte has not rescued her. Blonde supports her with her energy and her passion for freedom. “We once were mistress and servant; here we are two women, side by side.”

    XV. THREATS

    Selim enters to once more press his case with Konstanze, who remains adamant. He demands that she love him tomorrow, threatening torture and even a slow and painful death. But Konstanze is not swayed.

    XVI. PRAYERS

    Selim, horrified by the threats he has just uttered, is called away by muezzin. The hour of prayer will give him back some sanity. Meanwhile, Pedrillo alerts Blonde of the arrival of Belmonte and the planned escape for the coming night and asks her to warn Konstanze.

    XVII. DOUBLES

    During the party, Pedrillo remembers having second thoughts about escaping. There, as here, you must serve a master, but there is the sun, here it rains. But in thinking of his friends, he overcomes his doubts and decides to confront his enemy—Osmin.

    XVIII. IN VINO VERITAS

    Equipped with two bottles, Pedrillo manages to convince Osmin to drink with him. Osmin is quickly drunk, and Pedrilllo manages to get rid of him.

    XIX. BACK TO THE BEGINNING

    Konstanze and Belmonte finally meet and embrace each other. They are joined by Blonde and Pedrillo. The two couples express their happiness, a moment clouded by suspicion from Belmonte and Pedrillo: have their beloveds been faithful? Konstanze is in tears abd Blonde slaps Pedrillo, but they forgive and reconcile: “Long live love!”

    ACT III

    XX. THE EVENT OF THE TRUTH

    During the party, Blonde and Konstanze remember with regret their confused feelings for Osmin and Selim.

    XXI. LOVE IS MY GUIDE

    Belmonte implores his case about the power of love, here at the party, as it was at the seraglio.

    XXII. SIGNAL

    In the middle of the night, Belmonte and Pedrillo are ready. They give the agreed-upon signal—the music of a mandolin and Pedrillo hums a romantic tune. The two women appear at the window, a ladder is placed, and Konstanze and Blonde descend.

    XXIII. ONE STEP TOO FAR

    While all are preparing to flee, they are stopped by Osmin and his janissaries. Belmonte tries to bribe him with a purse full of ducats, a gesture that Osmin refuses with indignation. He orders the two couples be taken before the Pasha. Then, alone, he is triumphant.

    XXIV. A MAN WITHOUT PITY

    The fugitives must explain themselves before the Pasha. Belmonte demands Selim’s largesse and proposes that his family, one of the richest in Spain, pay a ransom for their freedom. When he mentions his family’s name—Lostados, son of the governor of Oran—Selim declares that Belmonte’s father Lostados is his worst enemy, the man who heartlessly took everything away from Selim by stealing away the only woman he ever loved, Maria Magdalena de Heredia, Belmonte’s mother. Selim orders that the execution be prepared, despite the Osmin’s please for mercy: Blonde is pregnant, the baby she carries is innocent.

    XXV. ADIEUX

    Konstanze and Belmonte say their goodbyes, happy however to die together.

    XXVI. THE CLEMENCY

    Selim finally grants his pardons, not wanting to resemble Belmonte’s thoughtless father and to teach the Europeans a lesson in forbearance. Osmin, desperate, sees the one he loves depart in joy. All sing to the goodness, greatness, and nobility of Selim.

  • A scene from the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
    Jane Archibald (centre) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
    Jane Archibald (centre) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth
    Jane Archibald (top right) as Konstanze in the Opéra de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth

A Canadian Opera Company co-production with Opéra de Lyon
A scene from The Abduction from the Seraglio (Opéra de Lyon, 2016), Photo: Bertrand Stofleth

The Abduction from the Seraglio

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
To

New COC Production

Cultures collide in Mozart’s singspiel, but real division is difficult to define. The story of European captives of a Muslim pasha in the Ottoman Empire, Abduction is ripe with the possibility of violent confrontation. But celebrated Lebanese-Canadian writer Wajdi Mouawad's direction deftly avoids caricature, and the brilliant humanity of Mozart’s characters shines in a new way

Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

Contact Page

Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube