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A profound but upbeat Seraglio

12/1/2016 12:59 PM

Stage Director Katariina Lahti wants the Savonlinna audience to leave the Castle with a jaunty step after The Abduction from the Seraglio. The opera with which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first made a name for himself is, in her opinion, much more than just a humorous, innocuous escapade.

“It was staggering to discover the infinite richness behind the characters and their mutual relations,” says Stage Director Lahti. “All of a sudden you find yourself dealing with fundamental issues. Yet the general tone of the work is down-to-earth and positive.”

Mozart created his opera for a Viennese public with a passion for exotic, colourful entertainment. But at another level, it is a maze of personal passions.

“The real abduction takes place not in the palace but in the maze of conflicting emotions, and that’s what the music says, too. Mozart launched a new concept of drama in which the characters are real people, not the stereotypical ones of folk theatre.”

The Abduction from the Seraglio is a mixture of folksiness and grandiloquence. It is suffused with a spirit of enlightenment and equality in which Mozart also takes a look at the relationship between Austrian and Turkish culture.

“He represents a European perspective but at the same time makes the Turkish Pasha a humane hero, and views the two cultures as equals, with all their comic and noble features. This is the core of an interpretation in which we, today, are automatically obliged to take a stand on cultural coexistence and dialogue. I want my direction to emphasise Mozart’s humanism.”

Sovereign genre for stage directors

Katariina Lahti says she enjoys directing opera because the music has such an energising effect. It is the sovereign genre for stage directors, allowing them to draw on their full range of experience.

“The soul of the opera is the music. It’s the director’s job to tell the story.”

People in Finland tend mostly to go to the opera to see new stories, whereas in the German-speaking region, they want to see new productions.

“The majority of the people in the Savonlinna audience will be seeing this opera for the first time at next summer’s Opera Festival. So the direction must be transparent; we can’t assume the opera will already be familiar.”