Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Apr 22 - May 7

Met Music Director James Levine returns to a work he has long cherished, Mozart’s delightful comic gem of wily captives in a harem. Coloratura soprano sensation Albina Shagimuratova stars in the bravura role of Konstanze. Rising tenor Paul Appleby is her lover, Belmonte, soprano Kathleen Kim is her shrewd maid, Blondchen, and bass Hans-Peter König delivers comic gravitas as the overseer of the harem.

Read Synopsis Read Program
  • Sung In
  • German
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 3 hrs 19 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I 39 mins
  • Intermission 35 mins
  • Act II 57 mins
  • Intermission 35 mins
  • Act III 33 mins
  • Opera Ends
Apr 22 - May 7

This production has completed for the season.

Be sure to check out our remaining productions on the season list.

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Die Entführung aus dem Serail

World premiere: Vienna, Burgtheater, 1782. Met premiere: November 29, 1946. Die Entführung aus dem Serail was written at the order of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. For source material, Mozart turned to a popular farce of his day about two pairs of European lovers, one noble and the other their servants, who are trying to escape from the harem of a Turkish pasha and his amusingly sleazy overseer. The work uses spoken dialogue and separate musical numbers in the form of a Singspiel, or “sung play.”


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was the son of a Salzburg court musician who exhibited him as a musical prodigy throughout Europe. His achievements in opera, in terms of beauty, vocal challenge, and dramatic insight, remain unsurpassed. Christoph Friedrich Bretzner (1748–1807) was a businessman and successful librettist, whose text was adapted by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie (1741–1800), head of the Nationalsingspiel, Vienna’s German opera company.

Production John Dexter

Set Designer Jocelyn Herbert

Costume Designer Jocelyn Herbert

Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


A scene from Die Entführung aus dem Serail

The story is set in the Turkish Empire in the 1700s, at a time when the centuries-old Turkish military threat to Christian Europe was waning and comedy on the subject of the clash of these two cultures became viable. While there is some humor at the expense of the Turks, just as much is aimed at the foibles of the Europeans. The clemency of the pasha in the final scene of the opera can be seen as a gentle rebuke to the original audience’s own culture, an idea characteristic of the Enlightenment.


The exotic hue of some of the numbers in Entführung is not an authentic representation of Turkish music but rather a European imagining of foreign sounds. Mozart uses some real Turkish instruments, including the bass drum, triangle, and cymbals, which would eventually become standard for European orchestras. He creates contrasting musical personalities for each of the lead characters, which heightens the effect of their individual solos. In Act II, for example, three vastly different soprano arias are juxtaposed, including Konstanze’s “Martern aller Arten,” an extended and astonishingly challenging vocal set piece that both references and parodies the old opera seria tradition.

Met History

Donald Oenslager designed the costume pictured here for Eleanor Steber as Konstanze in the 1946 Met premiere of Die Entführung aus dem Serail (when the opera was sung in English). After only five performances, Mozart’s comedy did not return until 32 years later, when James Levine led the current John Dexter production featuring Edda Moser, Nicolai Gedda, and Kurt Moll.

A scene from Die Entführung aus dem Serail