After the premiere of Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio or Harem), it is said that Emperor Joseph II told the composer something around these lines: “Too beautiful for our ears, my dear Mozart, and an awful lot of notes.” To which Mozart replied: “Exactly as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.” It isn’t certain if this episode ever took place but if the Emperor really said that, Mozart’s reply was in line with his personality and with the fact he knew the quality of his music. As a composer Mozart was far ahead of his time and aware of it.
“Too many notes” doesn’t refer only to the exotic Turkish elements Mozart introduced in the opera which are in line with the location where the plot takes place, Mozart’s music also describes the characters as well as words or, to my mind, even better, displaying his great sense of the dramatic. This wasn’t happening in opera until Mozart came along.
A semi-staging of Glyndebourne Festival’s production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail was presented at the BBC Proms last Friday, 14th Aug at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a lovely evening of music with the cast in costume and the fabulous Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, led by Robin Ticciati, giving an authentic, energetic and beautiful performance of Mozart’s great opera. I had the pleasure of reviewing it.
All photos by Chris Christodoulou, courtesy of the BBC Proms Press Office –
Except feature photo above “Seascape of Normandy” courtesy of Malcolm Bull