Skylight Opera, "Abduction From the Seraglio," Oct 10.
We figured that the day after the big party we wouldn't be good for anything except sitting and letting ourselves be entertained, so we had planned ahead by treating ourselves to tickets for the Skylight Opera's production of "The Abduction from the Seraglio," by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As with all Skylight shows, the piece was sung in English, and this production was further updated into the 1940's with a distinct "Casablanca" feel. Belmonte, son of a wealty westerner, has come seeking his fiance, Constanza, whose ship was captured by pirates, and she and her servants sold into slavery. In the Skylight version, Pasha Selim, into whose hands they have fallen, is a white slaver and master of a criminal empire. Selim has fallen in love with Constanza and seeks to woo her into returning his ardor rather than forcing her. We thought that the stark concrete-looking sets and moody lighting aided the adaptation and the whole worked quite well. The English translation of the libretto was not terribly witty, but the comedy of this lightest of Mozart's operas was carried well by the comic acting and expressive singing of Robert Swan as Osmin, the Pasha's chief henchman, and the servant couple, Kurt Alakulppi as Pedrillo and Donna Smith as Blonda. The passionate side was well supported by Kathy Pyeatt as Constanza, Robert Gagnon as Belmonte, and Michael DiPadova as Selim in a very effective although non-singing role.
All in all the singing was as good as any we have heard at the Skylight. Pyeatt has a full, gorgeous voice and definitely lead the cast as Constanza. All of the singers were excellent, and we were especially impressed with Donna Smith, whose Blonda delivers a drubbing disguised as a vigorous Swedish massage to the letcherous Osmin without wavering in tone, pitch, or volume.
Unlike some recent Skylight shows, the production had a very coherent feel, with lovely period costumes and props, complete to the antique cameras and voice recording instruments sported by the 'reporters' who are part of the chorus. Thanks to Director Jon Kretzu, costumes by Stacey Galloway, and set by Takeshi Kata. Conductor Pasquale Laurino lead the orchestra flawlessly.