'Abduction from the Seraglio' Marks Levine's Final Performance as Music Director

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Friday, May 06, 2016

Kathleen Kim as Blondchen, Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo, Albina Shagimuratova as Konstanze and Paul Appleby as Belmonte in Mozart's 'Die Entführung aus dem Serail.' Kathleen Kim as Blondchen, Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo, Albina Shagimuratova as Konstanze and Paul Appleby as Belmonte in Mozart's 'Die Entführung aus dem Serail.' (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

For four decades, James Levine has steered the Metropolitan Opera as its music director, molding the orchestra into one of the best in the world and bolstering the house's international renown. This Saturday at 1 pm, listen to the maestro's final performance before he retires and becomes music director emeritus, conducting Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio.

Starring coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova as Kostanze, and tenor Paul Appleby as her lover Belmonte, the opera begins as Kostanze and her two servants are sold to a Turkish pasha by pirates. It is up to Belmonte to find and rescue the trio. 

Technically a Singspiel, with several spoken lines, the work was written in 1782 by Mozart and librettist Christoph Friedrich Bretzner, with adaptions by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie for the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. 

Cast:

Konstanze: Albina Shagimuratova, soprano
Blondchen: Kathleen Kim. soprano
Belmonte: Paul Appleby, tenor
Pedrillo: Brenton Ryan, tenor
Osmin: Hans-Peter König, bass
Pasha: Selim Matthias von Stegmann

Conductor: James Levine

Comments [14]

Concetta Nardone from Nassau

I choose to not think of Levine's past and think of the great music. I do not think of Wagner's shortcomings and concentrate on the music.
As for Mr. Levine's past, who knows what the truth is.

May. 08 2016 07:07 AM
Jeremy from Livonia, MI

James Levine's past has always bothered me. He may be a fine conductor but his extracurricular activities are troublesome. There wouldn't be such talk if it didn't have at least a kernel of truth to it. I hope the full story comes out some day.

May. 07 2016 10:53 PM
Jeremy from Livonia, MI

I wonder how the boys that Levine molested feel about this being his last performance. They might have a different take on things......

May. 07 2016 10:49 PM

thank you WQXR for bringing us this performance, thank you to all musicians, thank you Maestro

May. 07 2016 08:52 PM
steve from morristown, nj

James Levine has given a wonderful extended period of pure joy. Bravo Maestro!!

May. 07 2016 06:25 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

I listened to the opening night broadcast, knowing ahead of time I couldn't bring myself to listen to this matine'e broadcast, for the obvious reason. To my ears, the co-ordination between stage and pit was all there throughout the opera, even allowing for possible opening night snafus; and never more so than during the quartet ending Act II. I'm one of those who can't get enough of the "Turkish instruments" in the Overture (that could have been louder to make me smile even more) , the Janissary chorus (ditto the Overture comment) and during Osmin's rant "Erst ko"pft...". My only regret during the entire opera was that there was no accelerando to finish the "rant" sequence with ever-increasing clamor on the triangle, bass drum and cymbals: admittedly, it's a question of interpretation since there's no such indication from Mozart. So many times when Mozart calls for "sforzando" followed immediately by "piano" and just as many times were articulated exactly that. Mr. Appleby's "Ich baue ganz" that opens Act III with all the Handelian roulades and fiorature were balm to my ears, as was all his singing. Ms. Kim's range and articulation of same were as demanding as anyone else's in the opera: from low A flat adjacent to middle C ascending to B flats. Her "Welche wonne..." was light and effervescent and happy; and ditto Mr. Ryan and Mr. Ko"nig in their "tipsy" duet, written "sotto voce" in the orchestra parts. Ms. Shagimuratova was all up to the challenge of Constanze, especially in the back-to-back "Traurigkeit" that include the "sad" corni di bassetti; and "Martern aller Alten". Mr. Ko"nig, along with an earlier celebrated Osmin, Gottlob Frick, sings on the vowel "O" wie will ich triumphiren rather than the score's "Ah wie...", no doubt because he likes the sound better. Hats off to the memory of John Dexter, who, from the photos provided, provided a stage picture and costumes Mozart and Stephanie would have recognized. The order was that in the score. Sir Thomas Beecham often placed "Martern aller arten" before "Ah, wie will...in Act III, thinking it too great a strain for Constanze after having sung "Traurigkeit", though it destroys Mozart and Stephanie's architecture. What's more, he began Act III with Belmonte's Act II aria "Wenn der freude...", and, because he didn't think "Ich baue ganz" represented the best of Mozart! Which handiwork only demonstrates that everything done in the past and all revered singers' interpretive choices weren't sacrosanct.

May. 07 2016 06:22 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

This opera cheered me up. Bravi tutti.
Thanks.

May. 07 2016 03:21 PM
Marie Brown from Nassau County, NY

Thank you Met Opera, thank you singers and musicians, thank you Mozart, and thank you dear James Levine, for your magnificent contribution of beauty to the world.

May. 07 2016 02:42 PM
Adele F (aka AF) from Nassau County, Long Island

Thank you, James Levine!!!

May. 07 2016 02:13 PM
CastaDiva from New York, NY

I was at last Saturday’s performance of this delightful Mozart opera. I have always loved it for its thrilling arias for all five principals, and its happy music. Of the two sopranos, Shagimuratova was impressive indeed, but I found her voice somewhat strident, although she gained some color as the evening progressed. But Kim, who had arias that were just as, if not more challenging, sang consistently with a round rosy tone, a real joy to listen to. The tenors were both excellent, with the right Mozartian sound. And Osmin, the basso role sung here by Koenig, was wonderful. He had perfect comic timing, but he was much more than a comic foil---his voice as deep and melting as dark hot chocolate, every aria he sang filled one with pleasure; and his Act III aria, “Ha, wie will ich triumphieren”, up until the final low D which he held for several seconds, was a triumph indeed. He, like the great basso Kurt Moll, who, according to the program notes, sang the role of Osmin at the role 21 times at the Met, excels in it.

I have observed, however, that it is usually the high voices that elicit the most enthusiastic response from Met audiences. So while bravos were screamed at and the applause was long for the tenors and sopranos after each aria, it was less enthusiastic for the basso, who most certainly was as capable and winning as the rest of the cast.

May. 07 2016 01:52 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Thank you Mr. Eisenberg
Thank you Dear Maestro Levine

May. 07 2016 01:33 PM
Larry Eisenberg from New York City

Seraglio, a Mozart delight,
An afternoon righter than right,
Melodically pure,
Vocally secure,
And infused with a humorous bite.

May. 07 2016 01:24 PM
Allan Marshall from Florida

FOUR DECADES? Thank you Maestro Levine.

May. 07 2016 10:45 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

This opera is a very pleasant change after all the murder, mischief and mayhem. Beautiful music.
Beduzzo Cavanaugh, hope you are well. Happy summer if you are no longer listening to this season's finale.

May. 07 2016 09:41 AM

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