The audience buzzes with anticipation as the curtains on stage draw back, revealing a man dressed in white sitting at a desk. The man soon embarks on a world journey, walking across the stage with a map projected behind him. He is on his way to rescue Konstanze, the love he lost one day at sea.
While it may be one of the lesser-known operas to the public, The Abduction from the Seraglio still possesses many qualities typical to all operatic masterpieces—a strong and unbreakable love, a surprise ending, and of course, lots of singing. But the Stony Brook Opera’s production, full of humor and talent, is a must-see for all fans of music and theater.
The opera, produced by Stony Brook Opera and the Stony Brook Baroque Ensemble, was performed by graduate students, according to Bryan Murray, who sang in the chorus. “The chorus had a couple of rehearsals, but other people took longer,” he said. “The lead roles were rehearsing for months.”
The performance is the Stony Brook Opera’s first on the Staller Main Stage after several seasons in smaller places, and is also the opening production of the Music Department’s Center for Opera Studies, according to the Department of Music’s website.
The opera is about a Spanish nobleman named Belmonte and his servant Pedrillo, who try to rescue their lovers Konstanze and Blonde. After they were shipwrecked one day, a Turkish king abducted the women and claimed them as his own for his harem. The king, Pasha Selim, tried to get Konstanze to love him, but her heart belonged forever to Belmonte, much to Pasha Selim’s dismay. Blonde was given to Pasha Selim’s security guard Osmin as a wife, but she refused his advances as well and waited for Pedrillo to return to her.
After Belmonte gets to Turkey, he is greeted by an angry and instigating Osmin. Belmonte finally gets into the castle (with Pedrillo’s help) by disguising himself as an architect. What ensues is a long and difficult escape that tests the bonds of love and honor.
Murray and the rest of the chorus were dressed as Turkish guards, with colorful pants, mirrored vests, and sandals that curved at the tips. The costumes reflected the time period and setting quite nicely. The scenery on stage was vibrant and well crafted, depicting a gaudy, but lavish middle-eastern castle.
The music—the orchestra and singing—was wonderful. The orchestra kept up with the singers in a magical and fascinating way. Although the play was in German, the words were projected in English on the screen on top of the stage, and the actors’ spoken lines were in English. The music, written by Mozart himself, consisted of lovely melodies and was sung by strong operatic voices. Nicholas Samios, a fan of opera, appreciated the quality of the music. “The orchestra was exceptional. The kids and their voices were very good,” he said.
The Abduction from the Seraglio is a definite must-see for fans of opera and theater. It fills any Stony Brook student with pride too see an old opera performed in a refreshing and comedic way on the stage of his or her school.