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The Abducation from the Seragilo/Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

May 17 @ 19:00 - 21:30
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33rd Mozart Festival in Warsaw

Theatre of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Singspiel in three acts, in the original German version with dialogues in Polish
Composer | Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto | Johann Gottlieb Stephanie der Jüngere
Premiere | 1 June 2023

Music Director | Marcin Sompoliński
Staging, director and dialogues | Michał Znaniecki
Set design, costumes and lighting | Paweł Dobrzycki
Choreography | Inga Pilchowska
Set design | Katarzyna Gabrat-Szymańska

Konstanze – Joanna Moskowicz
Belmonte – Aleksander Kunach
Pedrillo – Szymon Rona
Blonde – Katarzyna Drelich
Osmin – Sebastian Marszałowicz
Selim – Maciej Miecznikowski

Katarzyna Reisch, Patryk Rybarski, Volodymyr Ryga, Jakub Jóźwiak, Sebastian Piotrowicz, Jan Kosianko, Mirosław Woźniak

Vocal Ensemble of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna
Chorus Master: Krzysztof Kusiel-Moroz

Period Instrument Orchestra of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna
Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense

Marcin Sompoliński

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“I would say that in an opera the poetry must be altogether the obedient daughter of the music”, wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on 13 October 1781 in a letter to his father, Leopold. At the time, he worked intensively on his new work – singspiel The Abduction from the Seraglio, based on a libretto delivered to him by a poet born in Wrocław, Gottlieb Stephanie.

“Why the Italian comic operas are so popular, despite their unfortunate librettos?”, the composer was wondering in a letter, giving answers to his questions at the same time – “Because music reigns in them, and when you listen to it, everything else is forgotten. Opera is doomed to success, when the plot is well-designed, words are subordinated only to music, not stuffed between the notes here and there, in such a way as to fit into some unfortunate rhyming. The best thing happens when a good composer who has a workshop and is convincing enough in suggestions, meets a talented poet. Oh, a real phoenix. The effect is that in this case, you should not be afraid of applause, even the one coming from an ignoramus” – said Mozart.

“The Abduction from the Seraglio”, since the very beginning, had a slight national subtext. According to the will of the Emperor Joseph II Habsburg, the great advocate of Singspiel as a national form of artistic expression, (a kind of opposition to the Italian opera buffa), it was supposed to be exhibited in German. And as it often happens, after several years of unsuccessful efforts, resulting from the poor selection of Kapellmeisters, the Emperor himself decided to ask Mozart and the poet Gottlieb Stephanie to create a work that will fit into his idea of working out a German response to the ubiquitous Italian opera buffa. The subject matter did not ignore the prevailing trends for everything, that was oriental, which was associated with the Ottoman Empire. At stalls in Vienna and Berlin you could find plenty of coloured fabrics, spices, dried fruits, and everything that was associated with a distant land, in addition to the surrounding religious and cultural diversity of this land, raised a curiosity.

In “The Abduction from the Seraglio”, the spectator got everything that this topic was associated with. The characters have been exaggerated, such as for example: Bassa Selim – a dangerous, despotic ruler, or libertine Osmin – a good-for-nothing, who supervises his harem. Also, music based on motives of Janissary choruses come to the fore in its western adaptation to classical orchestra, enriched with characteristic percussion instruments.

Originally, The Abduction from the Seraglio was planned as an opera whose premiere was to mark the visit of Prince Paul I Romanov, and later Tsar of Russia in Vienna. However, there was not much time and finally Romanov was welcomed by one of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s operas, giving Mozart more time to finish the work. It definitely paid off. The composer worked on his final form for a long time, displaying ensembles and arias.

The success of the premiere (16 July 1782 in Burgtheater in Vienna) was so great, that it resulted in a special invitation of Mozart to the Emperor’s seat – Hofburg Palace. It was there, where the eagerly quoted words reviewing the work of the monarch were said: “Too beautiful for our ears, dear Mozart, and far too many notes!”. To which Mozart replied: “No more notes than necessary”.

The best review of what happened there is the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe himself: “All of our efforts to limit ourselves to what’s simple and unpublished have gone in vain when Mozart appeared. “The Abduction from the Seraglio” conquered everything, and our efforts to write a theatrical piece as perfect as his is a lost cause”.

“The Abduction from the Seraglio” was the most frequently staged work during the composer’s lifetime.

Piotr Iwicki

Teatr WOK
Address: al. Solidarności 76 b
Warszawa, 00-145

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