“Der geliebte Adonis” of Reinhard Keiser at Donaufestwochen
Is there anything lovelier than passing some weeks in the summer in a beautiful place with inspiring people, working and realizing some great music? This summer was the turn of Reinhard Keiser’s “Der geliebte Adonis” (Beloved Adonis), a german baroque opera, a potpourri of interesting music-styles going from madrigals to da-capo Arias, tons of duets mostly in love or vengeance 🙂 The location was Grein, a remarkable little city on the Danube river, 1 hour and a half distance to Vienna and a bit more than 15 minutes distance to Amstetten. Sad to say, that “Grein” comes from “greinen” – which means “crying”. Hundreds of years ago so many people drowned in the Danube which is full of swirls in this area (therefore the area is called “Strudengau” I think). Apart from admiring the beauty of this river rests a big respect of this big blue water ribbon at the foot of this city. But for the rest the “crying” is more of joy and admiration for the truly remarkable city and its people. Grein is owning one of the only preserved original Baroque theaters from 1791 (do not miss it), old buildings and villas, a monastery and of course the Grein Castle sitting in state of the city.
Of course I must say a few words to my role for Adonis. So far I have had a lot of “trouser-roles” lately, but playing the most beautiful man is quiet a challenge. How can he feel? How would he move, walk, talk, what does he think? A lot of questions I had to answer myself when preparing for this role. As always the answer was to find in the music itself of Reinhard Keiser and the beautiful poetic libretto by Christian Heinrich Postel. Of course the music and the opera had gone through some “reductions” for this muse-en-scène at Donaufeswochen. 2 arias of Adonis have been cancelled unfortunately. I had the pleasure to hold in the hand at least the facsimile of the only preserved handwritten copy which I got after some furious research in Berlin and other places from Salzburg with the help of a fantastic library employee. But my idea is, that if possible hold the autograph or at least only preserved copy in the hand always helps, and if it is only to clear up if one note seems on a strange place. Musically already something was clear: recitatives of Adonis directed (mostly) to women were ornated with beautiful words and notes – he knew how to please the female ear, arias were SHORT and even gave this character not necessarily the aspect of being the hero of the plot. Very clear and simple: Adonis is beloved and the big laments by all of the characters, even the male one’s (Philistus) after his death show that, how superficially he may have seemed, (I am talking about “our “production”-Adonis“) something special he has left and if only being the projection screen for all female hopes and dreams, even of the Godess of Love, Venus. Manuela Kloibmüller had a clear concept for this character: a prole and narcistic breathed macho, finding his “façon de vivre” in bringing happiness to women by loving and being loved, of course without maintaing the borders of fidelity. So I found myself, please do not laugh at me, googeling male hollywood beauties, their way of walking, smiling, “male models walking” to explore “beautiful” men, their style walking, looking, smiling and God knows, what they could feel. A new interesting approach to my repertoire of male characters as a mezzo 🙂 As Adonis I have passed a lot of time sleeping on stage: no, don’t get me wrong :-> this was part of the libretto and music. I think this clearly characterizes his state of being completely relaxed, finding always a mood to sleep and a nice place for it. At that time cars did not exist which would “round up” the Macho-interpretation, but the hunt. Probably not the best hunter but for sure an extremely enthusiastic one here poor Adonis looses his life by the tragic complot of Dryante and Mars.