Steve Sailer has a post on viewing a new performance of Mozart’s comic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail).
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (K. 384; The Abduction from the Seraglio; also known as Il Seraglio) is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie. The plot concerns the attempt of the hero Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, to rescue his beloved Konstanze from the seraglio of Pasha Selim. The work premiered on 16 July 1782 at the Vienna Burgtheater, with the composer conducting.
A seraglio is a harem. It is a comic opera with a happy ending and much silliness. It is only owing to the Mozart’s music that it is still performed at all.
But as Steve notes, it does involve Islam. From his post:
It was another delirious production by Pacific Opera Project. It’s awfully expensive to put on a grandly Orientalist version of “Abduction” like in Amadeus, so POP went instead to some local cultural history for the production’s low budget style, as exemplified by this famous fight scene at Vasquez Rocks, which POP reproduced faithfully on stage in the middle of Mozart’s opera:
Brian Cheney sang Belmonte as Captain James T. Belmonte beaming down to the Klingon harem on a rescue mission that gave him plenty of time for William Shatner’s self-infatuated Italian tenor-style mugging.
And setting “Abduction from the Seraglio” in the Star Trek universe gets around the whole Orientalism / Islamophobia angle that killjoys have been harping about since wealthy Episcopalian opera critic Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism.
Whether they did this owing to Islam or just to try to be cool and hip is not clear to me. I checked around and found it on YouTube. Here are the videos of both the Star Trek version and the original. If you watch the first few minutes of the original, you can clearly see the Islamic costumes.
Steve thinks it is related to Islam, but I am not completely convinced. There could be an element of trying to attract new young customers. Check his post and form your own opinion.