The Abduction
From the Seraglio

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07:30 PM
02:00 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
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Sung in German with projected English translation


Appropriate for all ages

Running Time

2 hours, 45 minutes
1 intermission


A comic tale of stolen love as only Mozart could write it.


A damsel in distress is captured by Turkish pirates and awaits her fate in the harem of the Pasha Selim. Witness the charming antics of her fiancé and his servant on their journey to rescue their beloveds as this colorful comedy unfolds.


James Robinson’s innovative production of Mozart’s comic gem brings the action to the decadent railcars of the 1920s Orient Express, making a triumphant return to HGO after nearly a decade.

Cast and Creative Team


Albina Shagimuratova 


Lawrence Brownlee 


Ryan Speedo Green 


Uliana Alexyuk 


Chris Bozeka

Pasha Selim

Christopher Purves


Thomas Rösner 


James Robinson 

Set Designer 

Allen Moyer

Costume Designer 

Anna R. Oliver 

Lighting Designer 

Paul Palazzo 

Projection Designer

Wendall K. Harrington 


Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Sarah and Ernest Butler Chorus Master Chair 

Setting: The 1920s. All the action takes place on the Orient Express, en route to Paris from Istanbul.

Before the opera begins

Turkish pirates in the Mediterranean have boarded and looted a yacht carrying Konstanze, a Spanish noblewoman; Blonde, her English maidservant; and Pedrillo, the personal valet of Konstanze’s fiancé, Belmonte. Intrigued by Konstanze, the wealthy Pasha Selim purchases the three Europeans.

After months of searching, Belmonte has traced them to Pasha Selim’s private car on the exotic Orient Express, about to depart Istanbul for Paris. Konstanze has become Selim’s favorite, but she yearns for Belmonte and resists the pasha’s advances. Blonde is being pursued by Osmin, overseer of the harem, although she remains true to Pedrillo, who has been taken into Selim’s service.


Belmonte searches for Pasha Selim’s private car, yearning to be reunited with Konstanze. He meets the boorish Osmin and asks him where he might find Pedrillo. Osmin, who believes Pedrillo is his rival for Blonde’s affections, flies into a rage and Belmonte departs. Pedrillo approaches Osmin and tries to make peace, but Osmin refuses. Returning, Belmonte learns from Pedrillo that Selim is in love with Konstanze, but that so far he has not forced himself upon her. They begin to plan an escape. Konstanze appears with Selim, and they are heralded by the crowd at the Istanbul station. Selim tenderly asks Konstanze why she is so sad, and she tells him that she is in love with another man. The pasha angrily dismisses her, but admits to himself that he loves her even more for her steadfastness. Pedrillo comes in and introduces Belmonte to the pasha as a gifted young architect; Selim approves and leaves. Belmonte and Pedrillo try to slip past Osmin, who attempts to bar their way—but the two succeed in getting into Selim’s car.



Blonde scolds Osmin and instructs him in the correct way to treat women. Osmin orders her to love him, for that’s the way it’s done in Turkey. Blonde reminds him that her mistress is Pasha Selim’s favorite and that she enjoys their protection. Osmin warns Blonde not to flirt with Pedrillo. Meanwhile, Konstanze mourns her separation from Belmonte. Selim reminds her that by the next day she must decide whether to accept his offer. She maintains that she can honor him but never love him. She will remain true to her beloved even in the face of torture or death. Selim is baffled, wondering why Konstanze has so much hope and courage. Pedrillo tells Blonde of Belmonte’s arrival and describes the plan for the “abduction.” They will put a sleeping potion in Osmin’s drink and all four lovers will escape. Blonde is delighted at this news and looks forward to telling Konstanze of Belmonte’s arrival. Pedrillo begins working on Osmin, telling the overseer that Mohammed should not have forbidden drinking, and after being reassured that the drinks are not poisoned, Osmin succumbs to temptation. He joins Pedrillo in praising wine and women before falling fast asleep. The coast now clear, Belmonte and Konstanze joyously embrace. The happy reunion darkens when Belmonte and Pedrillo jealously question the women’s faithfulness, but misunderstandings melt into relief and joy.



Pedrillo gives the signal for escape. When the women appear, the noise awakens Osmin, who sends for the guards. The lovers are trapped and Osmin will not accept Belmonte’s bribe to keep silent. Instead, Osmin savors the prospect of torturing and killing his enemies. Pasha Selim is informed of the treachery and arrives to question the prisoners. While Konstanze offers to die to save her beloved, Belmonte suggests that Selim might collect a handsome ransom from his wealthy family, the Lostados. Selim then realizes that Belmonte is the son of an old enemy and bids them prepare for the kind of punishment that Belmonte’s father would have dealt. The lovers vow to welcome death as the path to an eternal union, but Selim decides that rather than taking revenge, he will free his captives, for he despises Belmonte’s father too much to emulate him. He bids Belmonte to return to his homeland and become more humane than his father. This magnanimous act confounds Osmin, who protests the loss of Blonde to no avail. The pasha declares that love cannot be won by force. As the train pulls into the Paris station, the lovers vow never to forget the pasha’s kindness. Osmin’s rage erupts, but he is silenced by the crowd chanting praise to Pasha Selim.

HGO Production History

Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio was first performed by HGO in 1974 in outdoor performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre. In the fall of 1987, itwas one of three operas that inaugurated the Wortham Theater Center. (The other two were Aida and the world premiere of Nixon in China, which returned to HGO’s stage last winter for the opera’s 30th anniversary.) This production by James Robinson was first seen during the 2001–02 season, with Elizabeth Futral and Eric Cutler as the lovers, and again in 2007–08, with Tamara Wilson and Paul Groves.


Albina Shagimuratova


Set Designer
Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Projections Designer
Richard Bado
Chorus Master

* HGO debut
** HGO Studio Artist
*** Former HGO Studio Artist
"[Lawrence Brownlee is] part of a new golden age of bel canto with a voice that has a silvery sheen."
-New York Times
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Grand Underwriter
Margaret Alkek Williams