19th Pafos Aphrodite Festival presents Mozart’s Die Entfûhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio)
Mozart’s operatic magic comes to Pafos
This will be the 19 th opera to be performed in the stunning setting of Pafos harbour, with its famous castle as the splendid backdrop and it is the unique character and atmosphere that makes it such a special event – now the largest annual event in Cyprus. This year, Pafos is also the European Capital of Culture so it is very fitting that the opera will be Mozart’s most famous and the one that brought him overnight success as a composer.
The three act opera, Die Entfûhrung aus dem Serail , will be performed on Friday 1, Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 Septrember by the Italian Opera Organisation (CEFAC) and the Theatre of Pisa with the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. For the fifth consecutive year, the media supporters for this marvellous event is My Guide Cyprus.
If this will be your first visit to the opera, then you will not be disappointed as it portrays Mozart’s musical genius – especially as he wrote it when he was just 25 years old. The whole harbour area is transformed as there is not only the stage, orchestra pit and seating but there are many small and ornate canopies where drinks are served before the performance begins. Sitting waiting for the opera to begin, the shimmer of moonlight on the sea and the silhouette of the fishing boats provide a sharp contrast to the musical instruments being tuned and lights adjusted.
The opera was written by Mozart for the Emperor, Joseph ll. He wrote it when he was desperately short of money and knew that it really had to be a success. He worked tirelessly on the opera and it was first performed at the Bûrgtheater of Vienna in 16 July 1782 and was conducted by Mozart himself. The audience loved the new opera, which they quickly nicknamed Il Seraglio – especially as it was in German.
They loved the intricate musical score which displayed the young composer’s musical brilliance, but sadly the Emperor’s comment was that it contained too many notes for his liking!
Die Entfûhrung aus dem Serail is a ‘singspiel’ which is a slightly different type of opera as there is much spoken dialogue with songs in between – almost like a popular musical such as The Sound of Music, in fact one of the characters, Pasha Selim, does not sing at all.
The opera is set in the 16 th century as tells how Konstanze, a German bethrothed to a Spanish nobleman (Belmonte) is seized and imprisoned by the Turkish Pasha, Salim who tries hard to seduce her and force her into his harem. She refuses – even when threatened with torture and Belmonte and his servant try to save her and eventually after a change of heart, Salim lets them go.
For the Parma Opera Organisation (CEFAC) this opera will pose many challenges as it has many intricacies such as the song by a quartet at the end of the second act That embraces nearly every emotion and mood changing almost constantly. Several of the arias sung by the tenors are challenging too as they are pitched at the high end of the tenorial range, whilst one aria in the third act twice goes down to the lowest D – one of the lowest notes ever sung in opera!. It is the role of Konstance that is the most demanding of all - especially the ten minute long matern alter arten in which she tells the Pasha that she will not succumb to him. If you are worrying that you might not be able to keep up with the German, there will be Greek and English subtitles at either side of the stage which really make it easy to follow the story.
This year’s Pafos Aphrodite Festival is certainly going to be a memorable one and it is easy to understand why so many opera lovers from all over Europe, return to Pafos year and year to enjoy opera in a very unusual and special setting.
For more information contact Pafos Aphrodite Festival Cyprus in Pafos at +357 26 822 218 or visit www.pafc.com.cy
Ticket prices: €25, €40, €50 and €70.