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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    CRUELTY SCORNED

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The janissaries line up in praise of Selim, and give a heartening impression that in 18th century Turkey human rights seem admirably in place [watch and listen -- chapter 7, 30:07-31:12]. But alas, Matthias Habich as the non-singing pasha has fallen deeply in love with the enchanting Konstanze and is prepared to show claws to the extent of mentioning the word 'torture' should she not yield to his insistent demands. Konstanze has tried all the delaying tactics in her repertoire but now reveals her mettle in a display of vocal fireworks that pours scorn on any coercion the pasha might bring to bear [watch and listen -- chapter 14, 66:37-67:50].

Matthias Habich as Selim and Ruth Ann Swenson as Konstanze. DVD screenshot © Schwetzinger Festspiele/SWR/NHK/Maran Film GmbH
Matthias Habich as Selim and Ruth Ann Swenson as Konstanze. DVD screenshot © Schwetzinger Festspiele/SWR/NHK/Maran Film GmbH

Plans for the elopement are in place, and Pedrillo is busy with ladders to the apartments of Konstanze and her maid Blonde. Belmonte as heroic tenor must meanwhile stir the welkin with a ravishing apostrophe to the rapture of love [watch and listen -- chapter 21, 105:54-107:00]. Small wonder that Osmin, who has been temporarily fuddled in a drinking bout with Pedrillo, wakes to vehement action, grasps the situation in a trice, and has the culprits apprehended on the point of departure from the palace. Already he visualises his victims dangling at the end of a rope, their necks secured by him as tight as possible [watch and listen -- chapter 23, 118:34-119:31].

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Copyright © 14 June 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org