Glyndebourne's 1980 Production
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 12/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As far as I know, this production has not ever been released before in any format, and that's a shame because this is a very nice 'Abduction,' with excellent singing, exceptional orchestral playing, and good visual and dramatic values. It also gives us a chance to see the work of some singers early in their careers. Most important of these, to me, is to see and hear Willard White, that wonderful Jamaican basso, as Osmin. He darn near steals the show with his characterization, immensely likable and funny. The only thing missing from his performance is rock-solid low notes; he really has to reach for those low Cs and Ds. As for the ladies in the cast, they could hardly be bettered. Valerie Masterson is a delicious, if slightly reserved young lady, Constanze, and her singing is secure and dramatically apt. Lillian Watson's Blonde is sexy and very funny and her limpid soprano is perfect for the part. Pedrillo is sung and played by a gee-whiz James Hoback (his Albert Herring at the Saint Louis Opera is one of my most treasured opera-going memories), a fine contrast to the earnest and sweet-voiced Welsh tenor Ryland Davies as Belmonte (who also provided one of my most treasured memories, short though it be: Hylas's song in the first Colin Davis recording of 'Les Troyens'). Joachim Bissmeier makes a handsome but not very intimidating Pasha Selim.
The London Philharmonic play like angels under a then very young Gustav Kuhn (whatever happened to him?). The pace of Kuhn's direction makes the opera seem to whiz by, perfect for this light comedy. William Dudley's sets are both airy and realistic looking; they evoke a Turkish harem beautifully. Peter Wood's direction is fairly traditional, maybe a little bit staid, but certainly better than the Eurotrashed production from the Stuttgart Staatsoper, the only other DVD I've seen.
This is probably not the ultimate Entführung, but it is more than acceptable. The musical values are marvelous, the sets stylish, the direction unexciting but uninsulting as well. I have not seen the newish production from Salzburg (conducted by Marc Minkowski) but I'm satisfied with this one.
TT 140 mins; Sound PCM Stereo; Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish; No extras