Last night I got one of my Christmas presents when Kish and I attended Opera Columbus’ Mission: Seraglio. Opera tickets were one of my stocking stuffers.
The timing was excellent for another reason. Mission: Seraglio is a reimagining of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, and yesterday just happened to be Mozart’s birthday. The wily Wolfie, were he still among us, would have been 261 yesterday.
Opera Columbus’ production features all of the same beautiful music, but the setting and dialogue of the opera are transformed into a ’60s James Bond caper with a dashing spy, an archvillain apparently bent on world domination of a sort, and “Bond women” galore. The modifications turn Seraglio into an outright comic romp, from the point at the outset when a tiny doll figure parachutes through the Southern Theatre, to the suggestive rearrangement of topiary plants by a sex-obsessed gardener, to a clever use of the lyric translation display, to the finale where one of the characters is securely wrapped in a straitjacket and hauled away. The sets are great and the new dialogue is clever and occasionally laugh out loud funny. And, while the characters clearly enjoyed their light-hearted trip down James Bond Lane, they also did justice to the lovely, often passionate songs that Mozart created. I think he would have approved.
Mission: Seraglio shows that opera is a vibrant, flexible art form where there is still lots of room for creativity, even for a work that was written more than 230 years ago. It’s another job well done by Opera Columbus, and you can still see it at the Southern this weekend.