First Performance: 16 July 1782, Burgtheater, Vienna.
|Selim, Pasha||Nonsinging role|
|Constanze, a Spanish lady and Belmonte’s bethrothed||Soprano|
|Blonde, Constanze’s English maid||Soprano|
|Belmonte, a Spanish nobleman||Tenor|
|Pedrillo, Belmonte’s servant and now supervisor of the Pasha’s
|Osmin, overseer of the Pasha’s country palace||Bass|
|Klaas, a sailor||Nonsinging role|
|Mute, Osmin’s servant||Nonsinging role|
Setting: The country palace of Pasha Selim.
Background to the story
This is the tale of Constanze and Belmonte, two young Spaniards of noble
birth. Constanze, her English maid, Blonde, and Pedrillo, Belmonte’s
servant, fell into the hands of pirates who attacked their ship. The pirates
sold their captives at a slave market to Pasha Selim. After month of
searching for them in despair, tormented by not knowing what had become of
his beloved Constanze and the two servants, Belmonte sets out to find
Belmonte has arrived on the distant Turkish shore and approaches the high
wall surrounding the seraglio. Here he encounters Osmin, the Pasha’s
right-hand man, and questions him about the people he is seeking. Osmin,
however, has not the slightest intention of giving this stranger any
information whatsoever and sends him on his way.
Belmonte continues to look for a way to get into the seraglio.Through a
prison window, he manages to catch a glimpse of Pedrillo. This confirms that
Constanze and Blonde are also being held prisoner in the harem.
Pasha Selim has chosen Constanze to be the object of his affections. He
visits the harem every day and does everything in his power to persuade her
into accepting his suit. Constanze remains steadfast in adamantly refusing to
succumb. She has no idea yet that her beloved Belmonte is so near.
Meanwhile, Belmonte has disguised himself as an architect an enters the
First Courtyard of the seraglio. He teams up with Pedrillo and together they
try to get past Osmin into the Second Courtyard.
Osmin has taken a fancy to Blonde, but his persistent advances are met
with resistance by the young English woman. The two of them are involved in
constant battles of wit, which Osmin just can’t win.
Constanze makes it increasingly difficult for the Pasha to approach her
and he finally loses patience. He threatens to punish her if she does not
soon accept his suit.
Blonde learns about the plan for their escape from Pedrillo. Before they
can put the plan into action, however, they first have to outwit Osmin.
Pedrillo manages to persuade Osmin to help him empty a bottle of wine and the
latter then falls into a deep sleep. The two couples are able to meet and
plan their escape.
Belmonte, still disguised as an architect, smuggles Pedrillo out of the
Seraglio and they head for Belmonte’s ship. There they wait for night
At midnight, Belmonte and Pedrillo row round the coast to the foot of the
harem. Pedrillo serenades his Blonde as a signal. Osmin discovers them in the
boat and sends a fleet of ships out to capture them again.
The death penalty awaits them, but Pasha Selim decides to forgo revenge
and sets the captives free.
[Synopsis Source: Bayerische Staatsoper]