»Nothing is as vile as revenge. But to be humane and kind, and to forgive without self-interest. Only a great soul is capable of that.« A massive change of heart is required before the gathered protagonists are able to sing this paean to the Bassa Selim. Because you see: Konstanze, Blonde and Pedrillo were kidnapped by pirates, sold to the Bassa and carried off to his palace. Just as well that Belmonte, Konstanze’s fiancé, was able to escape during the melee and is now planning to free his Beloved and their servants (who are also in love). This, however, proves easier said than done. A degree of imagination is required, as the Bassa is loyally aided by his overseer in attempting to prevent the prisoners’ escape. Furthermore, the Bassa is himself captivated by the beautiful Konstanze, and Osmin no less beguiled by Blonde. Yet this would not be Mozart’s Singspiel par excellence if the story did not have a happy end, and the true lovers were not finally reunited. In »The Abduction from the Seraglio« Mozart created arias such as Konstanze’s »Tortures unrelenting«, Blonde’s »Oh, the happy, happy day« and Pedrillo’s »Now for battle« that until today are considered jewels of the operatic repertoire.
A Spaniard travels to Turkey in order to free the lover robbed from him. It soon becomes clear that the abduction is not going to be as easy as he had hoped...
Slightly more detailed summary
The Spanish lady Constanza, her English maid Blonda and the maid’s lover, Pedrillo, have been abducted by pirates from a ship travelling over the Mediterranean and then purchased by Selim, who is the Pasha in the
services of the Sultan. Since then, Selim has held his prisoners captive in his Turkish territorial dominions. The Spaniard Belmonte was the only one to have escaped from the pirates. He plans to free his love Constanza and the two servants.
Belmonte struggles through hazardous swampland.
Has the young Spaniard reached his destination? Will he see his Constanza again in this unreal landscape? His initial contact with the Turkish natives reveals itself as less than uplifting: Osmin, the seraglio overseer, is obviously not willing to communicate with Belmonte. Pedrillo also experiences Osmin’s unpleasantness at first hand. But he knows he is safe, because the Pasha holds him in high esteem. Finally, Pedrillo and Belmonte meet again. Belmonte learns that his Constanza is still alive, but that Selim covets her. This is simultaneously revealed to him in an ostentatious display. Constanza steadfastly rejects the advances made by the Pasha. The Pasha puts pressure on her to love him. But she has promised herself to Belmonte. Disguised as a master builder, Belmonte comes into favour with the Pasha. By tricking Osmin, Pedrillo and Belmonte are able to get within Selim’s sphere of influence.
Blonda, Pasha’s present to Osmin, is coveted by him – but without success. She refuses to be suppressed like the Turkish women.The Pasha Selim expects to be loved by Constanza in the end, either through dedication or by force. But she refuses to be forced into love. She would rather die.
Second Act (continued)
Pedrillo explains to Blonda the pending escape plan. For this purpose, he gets Osmin drunk. Having also been put out of action with a sleeping potion, Osmin does not see how Belmonte and Constanza finally reunite. There is now nothing to prevent their mutual escape with Pedrillo und Blonda… or is there? Here jealousy also plays a role…
Belmonte and Pedrillo prepare everything for the abduction of their loved ones. Will their plan work? Everything seems to run smoothly. Yet suddenly they are surprised and caught by Osmin, whom they thought was asleep – he triumphs in the circumvention of their escape and drags the four of them before the Pasha. Selim is full of rage at this traitorous act. The Pasha announces a terrible retribution on learning that he has Belmonte, the son of his worst enemy, in his hands. Due to Belmonte’s father, he once had to leave his home and his own love, and lost his honour. The two imprisoned couples wait for death. And yet then a completely unexpected twist in the plot occurs: Pasha Selim gives Belmonte, Constanza, Pedrillo and Blonda their freedom.
Staging and Set Design