The singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), which marks the beginning of Mozart’s mature period, was commissioned by Emperor Joseph II for the Burgtheater in Vienna. Mozart attached great importance to the work, since it was the first operatic piece he presented in Vienna as an independent, freelance artist without obligations to his former employer in Salzburg and without close bonds to his overprotective father.
The theme and music of Die Entführung aus dem Serail reflect much of the composer’s personal revolt, with the characters too longing for liberation and escape from captivity, facing wrath and arrogance, fighting – when their path to freedom is opened – with doubts about their loved ones and themselves. Yet as is customary with Mozart, melancholic and oppressive moods alternate with lightened, humorous, even slapstick moments. The story of Konstanze and her maid Blonde, abducted by the Turkish Pasha Selim to his harem, from where after overcoming numerous pitfalls they are liberated by their fiancés Belmonte and Pedrillo, is a variation on the vital Mozartian theme of seeking free naturalness and balance in human relations, above all, in relationships between men and women. The fleshed-out characters and musical virtuosity of the solo parts place Mozart’s singspiel high above the works of (not only) his contemporaries and also confirm the composer’s paramount position among the dramatic artists of all time.