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Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Turkey, 18th century. Konstanze, a young Spanish lady, her English maid, Blondchen, and Blondchen’s lover Pedrillo have been taken prisoner by pirates. Pasha Selim has bought them. Pedrillo, who is the servant of Konstanze’s fiancé, Belmonte, now works as the pasha’s gardener, while Konstanze has become her new master’s favorite. The pasha has given Blondchen to Osmin, his palace overseer.

ACT I. Belmonte has traced the trio to the pasha’s seaside palace. When he approaches the gate, looking for a way to rescue them, he encounters Osmin, who is polite but aloof (“Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden”) until Belmonte mentions his rival, Pedrillo. He drives Belmonte away and then rails at Pedrillo, who has come hoping to make peace with him. After Osmin has left, Belmonte returns, and Pedrillo tells him that the pasha loves Konstanze but will not force himself on her. Pedrillo will try to arrange a meeting between Konstanze and Belmonte and an escape by boat with Blondchen, if they can get past Osmin. Belmonte thinks of Konstanze (“O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig”), who soon appears with Selim. When the pasha asks her why she is still depressed even though he loves her, Konstanze explains that she cannot forget her lost fiancé (“Ach ich liebte, war so glücklich”). After she has left, Pedrillo introduces Belmonte to the pasha as a promising young architect. Selim welcomes him, and they arrange to meet the next day. Osmin, however, has other ideas and bars the way when Belmonte and Pedrillo try to enter the palace, but finally the two force their way past him and go inside.

ACT II. In the palace garden, Blondchen tells Osmin how a European woman should be treated (“Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln”). Konstanze finds Blondchen and complains of her sad lot (“Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose”). Her mood does not improve when the pasha again asks her to marry him. She refuses and tells him that she prefers torture, even death, to betraying her fiancé (“Martern aller Arten”). When they have gone, Blondchen and Pedrillo enter, discussing their plan of escape: they will get Osmin drunk, and all four lovers will leave on Belmonte’s ship. Blondchen is delighted (“Welche Wonne, welche Lust”). Even though Osmin’s religion forbids him to drink wine, Pedrillo has no difficulty in making him drunk (Duet: “Vivat Bacchus!”). The overseer stumbles away with the bottle, leaving the coast clear for the two couples to meet (Quartet: “Ach Belmonte! Ach mein Leben!”).

ACT III. Just before midnight, Belmonte looks forward to reuniting with his love (“Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke”). Pedrillo places a ladder against the ladies’ window and sings a serenade, their signal for escape. His singing wakes Osmin, who grasps what is going on (“Ha! wie will ich triumphieren”). The four are detained, and Belmonte and Konstanze lament their situation while affirming their love for each other (Duet: “Welch ein Geschick!”). When brought before the angry pasha, Belmonte tries to pacify him by suggesting he collect a handsome ransom from his wealthy family, the Lostados. At the mention of this name, the pasha realizes that Belmonte is the son of an old enemy, the man who exiled him from his own country. But he decides to repay evil with good, freeing Konstanze and Belmonte, and even Blondchen and Pedrillo. The grateful lovers praise their benefactor as they prepare to set sail (Ensemble: “Nie werd ich deine Huld verkennen”).