English liberty and Mozart’s opera

Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio [Die Entführung aus dem Serail] has a charming scene indicating England’s eighteenth-century reputation in Europe as a land of liberty.

A woman named Konstanze and her English servant Blonde have been abducted by pirates and sold to Pasha Selim. In Act II, the Pasha’s crude overseer, Osmin, attempts to get a resistant Blonde to submit to him, whereupon these excellent lines are uttered:

OSMIN: Aren’t you forgetting that the Pasha gave you to me as a slave?

BLONDE: Pasha this, Pasha that! Girls are not goods to be given away! I’m an Englishwoman, born to freedom, and I defy anyone who would force me to do his will!

Osmin retires from the scene startled by this plucky display of courage and principle from an unexpected source — a woman and a servant at that.

The opera was composed late in 1781 and premiered in July of 1782 in Vienna.

Originally posted by Stephen Hicks on http://www.stephenhicks.org/

About William Kline

William Kline is an associate professor in the department of Business Administration at the University of Illinois, Springfield.
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