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Die Entführung aus dem Serail

by Mozart


[This synopsis, like my others, is very, very brief. The reason is that I find the normal programme note much too long, and needlessly detailed and complicated. What I want is more of an overview. If I’ve read an overview – a sort of synopsis of a synopsis – I find that, particularly with the help of surtitles, there is then absolutely no need for a blow-by-blow description of the plot.]


Die Entführung aus dem Serail is a German “singspiel”. It is often confusingly referred to in Italian as Il Seraglio. As a singspiel, it has much spoken dialogue, no recitatives, but separate, set-piece arias, duets and quartets.


The plot is very, very simple.


Belmonte, a Spanish nobleman, is trying to rescue his fiancée, Konstanze, his servant Pedrillo and Konstanze’s maid (and Pedrillo’s fiancée) Blonde from the clutches of Pasha Selim, in whose palace they are being held, under the control of the Pasha’s dreadful overseer, Osmin.


Konstanze has to resist the amorous advances of the Pasha, which she successfully does. Blonde has to resist the rougher approaches of Osmin, which she also does.


Belmonte gets access to the palace – or at least the gardens – by posing as an architect to the Pasha.


The only real event is the attempt, with the aid of a ladder, to enable the captives to escape. Osmin spots the ladder and raises the alarm. The Pasha discovers that Belmonte’s father is an old enemy and condemns Belmonte to torture and death. But he then changes his mind. He decides that it would be better to be merciful. They are released – to the dismay and horror of Osmin.


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