True heroes link Engish Touring Opera’s contrasting productions

Ronald Samm (Olim) and David Webb (Severin) in The Silver Lake. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.
Ronald Samm (Olim) and David Webb (Severin) in The Silver Lake. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

English Touring Opera’s excellent productions of The Seraglio and The Silver Lake bring operas from different eras with different music and contrasting stories.

Their common theme is the true hero who refuses to act with vengeance, making us reflect on our own world.

The Seraglio shows how well Mozart could take a comic story, set it to wonderful music and challenge us with a humanistic theme. Our heroine Konstanze, her

maid and her steward who is in love with the maid are abducted by pirates and sold as slaves to the Pasha. Belmonte, Konstanze’a noble lover, comes to

rescue them. But the Pasha loves Konstanze and his steward loves her maid. With these two love triangles, Mozart gives us beautiful laments, duets and

ensemble pieces.

This production is very funny and beautifully sung. The lead singers are all excellent and Lucy Hall is outstanding in the demanding role of Konstanze. The

set is great with a revolving central area and the women in a gilded cage.

The real hero is the Pasha who, with his enemy in his power, decides not to act like his enemy but to exercise compassion.

Written in Germany in the early 1930s The Silver Lake portrays a deeply divided society. Weil’s music with its compelling but threatening dance rhythms propels us through this stark, surreal story of hunger and corruption, loss, gain and further loss.

The strong solo voices and ETO chorus are joined by Streetwise Opera from Nottingham making a powerful mass chorus.

The set is appropriately stark and versatile, made up of mobile scaffolding and ladders.

Buxton Opera House hosted the productions at the weekend.