SF OPERA’S “ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO” — The Trills and Frills of Captivity

Mozart’s romp through a Turkish harem is the perfect choice for the super discounted Special Mozart Family Offer – October 17th and 23rd

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera is extending to you and your family an opportunity to attend Mozart’s delightful comedy The Abduction From The Seraglio at very special family rates – 50% off regular prices for adults and 75% off for children. The offer applies to the Saturday, October 17th, 2:00 pm matinee or Friday, October 23rd, 8:00 pm evening performances. Mozart’s witty tale about a Spanish nobleman’s attempt to rescue his beloved “Konstanze” from a Turkish Pasha’s harem is set to a fabulous score, packed with delightful arias, beautifully costumed, and punched with comedy by director Chas Rader-Shieber. These discount performances are available exclusively through SF Opera’s special web page, Special Mozart Family Offer, and expire at 11:59 pm the day before each performance.

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Abduction From The Seraglio, Finale. Photo, Cory Weaver

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Mary Dunleavy (Konstanze) and Charles Shaw Robinson (Pasha Selim) Photo, Cory Weaver

Mary Dunleavy glorifies Mozart’s beautiful and complex melodies with her astonishing vitality and vocal flexibility. Last seen as “Gilda” in the 2007 production of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO, her lyrical tone and porcelain beauty enraptured audiences in the house and the thousands who gathered in Civic Center to view a simulcast. As “Konstanze”, she displays the more dramatic qualities associated with the role and reveals the vibrancy and warmth of her lower register. Mary Dunleavy takes total delight in the spin and flurry of ornamentations, cadenzas and trills. And then, in the acting department, she sustains Konstanze’s unrelenting anxiety about her aching heart and maiden’s virtue – which will become a thing of the past sometime tomorrow in the palace of “Selim Pasha” who has, so far, been a gentleman about it all in the hope of gaining her love. (After all, he’s promised her that she will be his favorite among the many wives!) Mary Dunleavy delivered pure Mozart – liberating her stunning technique and ringing the walls of the War Memorial Opera House with her intensely beautiful voice. I suggest we snare the lovely diva’s future schedule and give her a dream debut as Massenet’s “Manon”.

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MARY DUNLEAVY, Soprano

Appearing in the role of “Belmonte” – Konstanze’s sweetheart and hopeful rescuer – is tenor Matthew Polenzani, winner of Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award. He is the definitive Mozart tenor and an ideal match for Mary Dunleavy. His Second Act aria, “Wenn der Freude Tränen fliessen” (When our hearts are overflowing) was meltingly sweet and romantically compelling. Mr. Polenzani is well known for his Mozartian heroes which include “Don Ottavio” (Don Giovanni), “Ferrando” (Cosi fan tutte) and “Tamino” (The Magic Flute).

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Matthew Polenzani (Belmonte) and Andrew Bidlack (Pedrillo). Photo, Terrence McCarthy

Young tenor Andrew Bidlack, a participant in the 2007 Merola Opera Program, is assigned to the lyric buffo role of “Pedrillo”, servant to Belmonte. Mr. Bidlack continues to distinguish himself with his acting abilities and charming stage presence. His Act Three aria, “In Mohrenland gefangen war ein Mädel” (In Moorish lands a maiden fair) showed growing vocal strength and a fine artistic line. He also appears as “Ruiz” in this season’s production of Il Trovatore.

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Anna Christy (Blondechen) and the Pasha’s guards. Photo, Cory Weaver

As Mozart’s pesky soubrette, “Blondechen”, Anna Christy is delightfully flirtatious in her lecture on love making, “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” (With smiles and kind caresses). Countering that he will be happy after the captives are all tortured and hanged – “O wie will ich triumphieren” (My triumphant hour’s approaching) British bass Peter Rose as “Osmin” and his retinue of bare-chested guards provide great comic relief in true vaudeville style.

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PETER ROSE (Osmin) Photo, Cory Weaver

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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