Mozart, Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Soloists, Frankfurter Museumsorchester, Frankfurt Opera Chorus. Conductor: Michael Güttler. Frankfurt Opera 16. 4.2011 (JMI)
Coproduction with Brussels’s Theatre de la Monnaie and Barcelona’s Liceu
Direction: Christof Loy (Original), Ute M. Engelhardt (Revival)
Sets and Costumes:Herbert Murauer
Lighting: Olaf Winter
Konstanze: Brenda Rae
Belmonte. Jussi Myllys
Osmin: Thorsten Grümbel
Blondine: Mari Eriksmoen
Pedrillo: Peter Marsh
Bassa Selim: Christoph Quest
Frankfurt may not the opera of the starry vocal lineups, but what you get is opera at a consistently excellent level, which is also what we got at this revival of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio in the production of Christof Loy. Seen and Heard covered the production last year at Barcelona’s Liceu and having been at both, it is clear that Frankfurt did a better job than Barcelona. The integrity of the dialogues made far more sense which resulted in the reaction of the audience being much more spontaneous to them… an important aspect if one is going to rely on much spoken text at all.
The musical direction was entrusted to Michael Güttler, a long-time assistant to Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky, who gave his debut in Frankfurt. The musical result was well above the previous night, when Hartmut Keil led the orchestra in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Mr. Güttler’s reading had lightness, rhythm, and true Mozartean sense of the music, although there were moments-after the longer dialogues-when inspiration seemed lost.
American soprano Brenda Rae gave life to Konstanze, proving the point that singing the right repertoire is easily as important as just being a good singer. I say this because just two months ago I saw Brenda Rae in Bordeaux as Zerbinetta to less than favorable effect. Brenda Rae is at home in Mozart and her voice needs not enter the stratosphere to succeed. She was an exemplary Konstanze in her musicality and expressiveness, with good command of the coloratura. At times we missed some more weight in the lower part of the tessitura, but here she is much more in her element than in parts like Zerbinetta or Olympia.
Finnish tenor Jussi Myllys replaced Simon Bode in the part of Belmonte and he offered a remarkable performance. He is a light tenor with a pleasant voice, but not very bright in timbre, and he has an outstanding breath control.
German bass Thorsten Grümbel was an excellent Osmin. Last year I had the chance to see him in Simon Boccanegra and he was clearly not in good shape. He has the right voice for this role (more so than Verdi), not too big, and he took to the character.
Young Norwegian soprano Mari Eriksmoen was just a perfect Blondine. This is one of those thankful characters for any singer, like Micaela or Liú, but this young soprano was wonderful, both singing and acting. She is not more than a Susanna yet, vocally, but she was simply delicious.
Peter Marsh was a good Pedrillo, much better in every aspect than the day before for his cameos in Hoffmann’s Tales.
The actor Christoph Quest plays Bassa Selim in this production, a role that he can dominate upside down and he is so integral to this production that it would be difficult to understand without him.
In this performance Frankfurt has launched a new system for blind people. It is an audio recording explaining what is going on at the stage. The number of blind spectators was numerous, some of them accompanied by their inseparable dogs… It was wonderful to see them (the blind people, not their well behaved canine friends) enjoy opera this way.