Four Europeans were in the power of the Turkish pasha, and although the stern ruler has something to punish foreigners for, he lets them go in peace: truly, the best revenge is forgiveness.
This, in brief, is the content of Mozart's opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, which plays on the alla turca style, which was extremely fashionable in Vienna in the second half of the 18th century. The national composition of Mozart's "Turkish" opera is very motley: in addition to two Turks, three Spaniards and one Englishwoman participate in the story, and they all speak in rich German, because "Abduction from the Seraglio" is an Austrian singspiel, "playing with singing", a musical comedy with dialogues. An uncomplicated action develops in the conversational scenes, the genius of the 26-year-old Mozart is fully manifested in the musical numbers. The composer wrote with enthusiasm - both because the Singspiel was to be his debut in the capital's Burgtheater, and because his own life miraculously rhymed at that moment with the plot of The Abduction from the Seraglio: Mozart was just rescuing his own "captivity" from home bride Constanta, the namesake of the main character.
Based on the usual theatrical stencil of two pairs of lovers (two nobles, two commoners), the composer created four living human characters. Where the librettist Gottlieb Stefanie at first offered only a monologue or a conversation, musical numbers appeared at the insistence of Mozart. Both the singing of the heroes and the sound of the orchestra, in a Mozartian way, subtly and naturally convey a huge range of emotions. Belmont's party reveals him as a noble, vulnerable and delicate person; he is not inclined to brandish weapons, but is ready to give his life for his beloved. The character of Constanta is to match the name: she is constant, persistent, faithful; The aria Martern aller Arten is a convincing confirmation of this. Pedrillo is charming, active, inventive. Blondchen - sincere, free, fearless. Standing below Belmont and Constanta on the social ladder, Pedrillo and Blondchen are not at all inferior to them in their human qualities. Mozart endowed both pairs with high voices: in the ensemble of the main characters there are two sopranos and two tenors. At the other extreme - the manager Osmin, bass, the only low male voice among the soloists. Osmin is the brightest type, both fierce and funny. His aria Solche hergelaufne Laffen in the first act is the first extended comic aria in the history of German opera. The contrast of the lyrical and "barbaric" lines is the main dramatic device in The Abduction from the Seraglio. An overture is also built on it, where the brutal (according to the Enlightenment) musical "turet" suddenly gives way to the most delicate lyrics with a slight Renaissance tinge, because the action takes place in the 16th century. Mozart said of the overture that "even one who has not slept all night will not fall asleep here." These words, of course, can be attributed to the entire opera.