I can’t procrastinate with my reviews for Chicago Opera Theater productions; wait a week and you’ll have missed it. The second production of their season, The Abduction from the Seraglio, opened Wednesday night (the first of only five performances) which I’d highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Mozart.
There’s not a whole lot going on plot-wise (a Spanish nobleman named Belmonte attempts to rescue his love, who’s been kidnapped, along with her maid Blonde and his servant Pedrillo, by a Turkish ruler.) The music was beautiful and vibrant, under the rousing baton of conductor Jane Glover. All four leads were outstanding, the score giving each of them a moment to shine. Particular stand outs were Sarah Coburn, spunky and bright as Blonde, and Michael Colvin, whose strong, clear tenor was a pleasure to listen to.
The staging started out interesting, with striking effects achieved with the thorny fence surrounding the castle casting shadows across the stage. Giant white tile bowling pins–they really looked like Russian nesting dolls of various sizes that were on wheels and could easily move about the stage–stood in for various set pieces. The curtain was kept low, creating a sort of letterbox effect, until it was fully raised about half-way through the performance…to no real effect.
Things got a bit stagnant around this point. Moving around the giant white dolls never paid off. In fact, they began to detract. Near the end, when Belmonte and Konstanze are captured, two of the pins turned around to simulate prison cells, with each character “chained up” as they sung about their love in the face of certain death. I couldn’t get past the fact that it looked as if they were singing inside of two halves of an albino avocado.
That aside, the singing (and acting) was extremely good and the music truly wonderful.