The Abduction from the Seraglio
October 14, 2016
Imagine going to the opera: you put on your best clothes and sit down in a quiet, stuffy theater. The singers perform songs in Italian or German, wearing historical costumes. The audience, which is full of little old ladies, claps politely. You understand the plot vaguely, and that’s if you’re paying attention. You fall asleep well before the opera ends.
Got it? Good. Now throw it all out.
The Abduction from the Seraglio is an opera by Mozart which premiered in 1782. It concerns the misadventures of a hero and his servant to save their beloveds from the clutches of a Turkish ruler. You might not recognize Salt Marsh Opera’s production of Abduction, put on at the Kate this past weekend—until you replace “hero and his servant” with “starship captain and his first officer.” Yes, that’s right: Salt Marsh Opera has transformed this centuries-old Mozart opera into a Star Trek parody.
The lyrics, translated into English (and once, memorably, Klingon), have been tweaked to include nods to Star Trek. The actors have been decked out in full futuristic costume: Starfleet uniforms, green, red, and blue skin, and Klingon forehead wrinkles. The set is molded after a rocky in a distant galaxy during the first half, and the interior of a Klingon outpost during the second.
It probably sounds ridiculous, and it is. It’s also hilarious. The actors portraying the “Captain Kirk” and “Mr. Spock” characters obviously did their homework—their portrayals perfectly capture the most outlandish and flamboyant aspects of the original Star Trek series. The two leading actresses satirize the women of Star Trek excellently. Their portrayals of Captain Belmonte’s ever-faithful girlfriend and Mr. Pedrillo’s saucy companion hit the nail right on the head. The cast of Klingon guards and rainbow-skinned slave girls provides a luscious backdrop that reminds the audience of the out-of-this-world setting.
Of course, all the riotous hilarity doesn’t change the fact that The Abduction from the Seraglio is an opera. The actors’ voices are amazing, and carry over the orchestra without any external amplification. They keep up complex songs, including duets, trios, and quartets, while also executing quick and elaborate movements across the stage. There are sung fight scenes, sung love scenes, and songs sung solely for comedic effect. Basically, Salt Marsh Opera’s The Abduction from the Seraglio has everything.
Everything, in case you were wondering, includes six LOLHS students and one teacher. Ben Jackson, Bailey Nickerson, Lauren Mitchell, Heather McGrath, Liam Clark, and Justin Shaw are all members of the chorus, with the boys playing Klingon guards and the girls playing slave girls. Mr. Wilson is a member of the reduced orchestra, which is also phenomenal (thanks in no small part to Mr. Wilson himself, who stood in for every other brass instrument from trombone to trumpet by himself on the French horn).
Disappointed you didn’t get to see Abduction last weekend? Never fear! Salt Marsh Opera is putting on another week of performances at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.saltmarshopera.org/purchase-tickets.