If anyone needed a reminder of how ahead of his time Mozart was in virtually every respect in this 250th anniversary year if his birth, the first major area staging in more than two decades of the most popular of his operas during his lifetime, “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” should serve as a powerful reminder. Chicago Opera Theater’s welcome production of this masterpiece manages to bring us more true-to-life characterizations of Muslims and Middle Eastern culture than may be found in much of today’s Western movies and media. The only opera in which Mozart named the heroine after his own wife, its remarkable portrayal of love and marriage and what is required for both offer more sage advice than could be had in a dozen Dr. Phil books. The luxurious cast includes soprano Leah Partridge scaling the stratospheric heights of Konstanze with seeming ease and tenor Michael Colvin as her robust-sounding beloved, but no less impressive is rival couple Sarah Coburn and Matthew Garrett. Northwestern senior and recent Metropolitan Opera prizewinner Paul Corona has an obvious bright future ahead of him and makes a commanding Osmin, although his Mozartean technique and lower range are in need of work. Jane Glover conducts with the clarity, balance and energy that distinguish her many topnotch Mozart performances, and though Australian director Justin Way brings out the work’s dramatic nuances and plot twists impressively, the bland and truncated set design more often than not serves as a distraction to his efforts. (Dennis Polkow)
Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, (312)334-7777. $35-$115. Through May 13.