Vancouver Opera 

The Abduction from the Seraglio
by W.A. Mozart
Libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie
Based on the play by C.F. Bretzner

In German with English dialogue and surtitles

Date: March 5 2004
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson


Conductor  Jonathan Darlington  Director Ann Hodges  Chorus director Leslie Uyeda
Cast: Konstanze Aline Kutan Blondchen Cyndia Sieden Belmonte Michael Colvin Pedrillo Marcel van Neer Osmin John Cheek  Pasha Selim David Adams


Opera Vancouver

Vancouver Opera's second foray into concert performance produced an evening of dashing Mozart.  Dazzling coloratura, luscious lyricism, the extreme highs and lows of the human voice fascinated and amused the audience even while the orchestra seduced, underpainting the characters' deeper selves. 

John Cheek's is not the fullest and richest basso profundo, but he tackled the part of Osmin with aplomb, making the demanding role seem easy.  His brows bristled and his fists clenched at foreigners, especially women, most amusingly.  The whiff of real danger Osmin may also present was missing in this production.

The two tenors, Michael Colvin as Belmonte and Marcel van Neer as Pedrillo, both sang with assurance and style.  Michael Colvin's rich tones and velvet lyricism were very moving.  In contrast Pedrillo was cheeky and cunning, very funny without being  lightweight.

It was the women who stole the show.  Aline Kutan (Konstanze) negotiated the second act head to head arias, "Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose" and "Marten aller Arten" with great technical mastery and at the same time a deep sincerity which clearly portrayed both Konstanze's unhappiness and her strength of character



Cyndia Seiden as Blonde was the perfect foil for both Konstanze and Pedrillo.  Her brilliant sense of timing was both comic - you could tell by the laughter - and sensitive - you ccould tell by the delicate phrasing.  She accomplished the vocal gymnastics with panache and artistry, always finding a different way of singing a repeated phrase.  Her infectious flirtatiousness reflected exactly the sparkle and brightness of the opera as a whole. 

One advantage of a concert performance is that the orchestra may be placed behind the singers as it was on Friday.  As well, the diction, in speaking and singing, was precise in both languages with the result that the words were clear and the balance between voice and orchestra excellent.

The simple staging was unobtrusive but just sufficient to add interest and help the audience.  Costuming was less successful, varying as it did from everyday tuxedos for the men, slightly modified by sashes for the Turks, and full costuming (a very sexy maid's outfit) for Blonde. 

The downside of a concert performance is the risk of a distancing effect. Only Cyndia Sieden and Marcel van Neer seemed truly engaged with the drama, the other characters and their own roles. 

As always the Vancouver Opera Chorus under Leslie Uyeda sang well.  The orchestra could perhaps have had a little more fizz from time to time, but overall was beautifully transparent, the themes clear and the support for the singers well-balanced.

2004, Elizabeth Paterson