September 27, 2006

Gratuitous Musickal Posting - Islamicist Sensibilities Division

I hadn't focused much on the brouhaha in Germany over the yanking of an opera production at the behest of offended Muslims, so I didn't realize until this morning that the opera in question was Mozart's Idomeneo and that the flap had to do with a rather childish staging stunt rayther than anything in the body of the work itself.

That got me wondering. If somebody is going to try and spike a Mozart opera on the grounds that it is offensive to Islam, why not go after his Die EntfĂĽhrung aus dem Serail instead? After all, in the character of Osmin, it contains probably the greatest comic-book Musselman of the entire operatic reportoire:

Moll Osmin.jpg
Kurt Moll as Osmin.

Here's his big Act I rant, "Solche hergelaufne Laffen":

These profligate puppies who do nothing but ogle women,
I'd rather have the devil; for all they ever do is watch us at our work;
but a face like that doesn't deceive me.

Your tricks, your wiles,
your schemes, your guiles,
All are known to me.

You'll have to get up early to get the better of me; for I know what's what.
Yes, by the beard of the Prophet! I'll not rest, day or night,
till I find a good way to do away with you, watch out how you may.

First beheaded, then hanged,
then impaled on red-hot spikes,
then burned, then bound
and drowned, finally flayed!

Among other things, Osmin is humiliated by his English "slave" Blondie, who refuses to let him order her about, is tricked into getting thoroughly drunk by Pedrillo, Blondie's lover and finally storms off in a huff because his master, the Pasha Selim, mercifully releases his European prisoners in the end. And in every production of this opera I've ever seen, Osmin's clown of rage has been played to the hilt.

I'd think that would be a far riper target for any agitators looking to do a little Islamicist mau-mauing in the opera world than would a little throw-away production gimmick.

But perhaps I shouldn't be giving anybody any ideas.

Posted by Robert at September 27, 2006 10:37 AM | TrackBack