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Livermore Valley Opera presenting 'Abduction'

Farcical romance includes Mozart's most spectacular arias

Mozart fans, opera aficionados, theater and music lovers: Make your way to the Bankhead Theater in Livermore during the next two weekends to enjoy the drama and lighthearted comedy of "The Abduction from the Seraglio."

The Livermore Valley Opera production opens Saturday night and runs through next weekend.

"This opera is an example of the 'musical theater' of its day, when at age 25, Mozart ushered in a new era in music history with this first of his operatic masterpieces," artistic director Erie Mills said. "The music includes some of the composer's most spectacular and difficult arias, and we have brought together amazing talent to perform Mozart's incredible music."

Unlike most operas that are performed entirely in a foreign language, the arias and ensembles are sung in German, but the dialogue is spoken in English.

"With so much of the story spoken in English, this opera serves as a wonderful opportunity for anyone ever curious about this genre, making it an engaging experience for anyone," Mills said.

"Abduction" is a farcical romance set in a Turkish harem about the rescue of young Spaniard Konstanze and her English maid Blonchen by their fiances Belmonte and Pedrillo from the Ottoman Palace of Pasha Selim and his ferocious henchman, Osmin.

The opera includes a westernized version of Turkish music in which Mozart created an opera of great emotional depth, combined with hilarious scenes of comedy. He was inspired by the exotic culture of the Ottoman Empire, a nation that had only recently ceased to be a military threat to Austria.

When "Abduction" premiered in 1782, the opera's virtuoso singing and brilliant orchestration, previously unheard in Vienna, prompted Emperor Joseph II to complain to Mozart, "That is too fine for my ears -- there are too many notes!" Mozart famously replied, "There are just as many notes as there should be," a line that was included in the Oscar-winning film, "Amadeus."

"We have an excellent cast for this opera," Mills said. "Tony award-winner Eugene Brancoveanu, a LVO favorite who has performed many of LVO's productions and directed 'La Boheme' and 'Carmen' for the company, will direct 'Abduction' and perform the role of Pasha Selim. The talented cast includes Alexandra Batsios (Konstanze), David Walton (Belmonte), Elena Galván (Blondchen), Michael Kuhn (Pedrillo), and Kevin Langan (Osmin), who is the first San Francisco Opera solo artist to reach 300 performances."

Right number of notes

What: Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio"

Who: Livermore Valley Opera

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6; 2 p.m., Sundays, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7

Where: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore

Tickets: $42-$90; students 18 and younger $10 off. Go to www.LVOpera.com.

Other: Pre-opera lecture one hour before curtain time. Artists reception in the lobby after the performance.

Opening Night Gala: Event begins at 4 p.m., with dinner at 4:30 p.m. at Uncle Yu's at the Vineyard. Separate tickets required, $95.

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