Abduction in Aix

Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail is perhaps the most difficult of his major operas to bring off successfully.  I dealt with some of the issues in a review of Hans Neuenfel’s production so I won’t repeat myself here.  Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeïff’s production for the Aix-en-Provence Festival, filmed in 2004, has several interesting features that cast an interesting light on the main characters.  The most drastic is the treatment of Osmin.  Here he’s rather dignified and far from the fat, brutal, somewhat comic lecher of convention.  That side of his character is conveyed by five, mostly silent, sidekicks.  These guys are everywhere, portraying both Osmin’s baser nature and the “walls have eyes and ears” aspects of the story.  They are made to look rather dim and get some fairly funny business to play with.  Next we have Bassa Selim played by a dancer.  This makes it easier to portray him as sensitive but not a wimp through the use of extremely virile choreography.  Clever!  Finally, both Pedrillo and Blondchen are sung by people of colour.  That can’t be a coincidence.  It certainly puts a very interesting spin on the confrontation between Osmin and Blondchen about how English girls are different from Turks.  These ideas are played out against rather dramatically colourful sets and costumes with lots of comic business to make a fast paced and enjoyable romp that makes one think just enough about the underlying meanings.

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