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„Der geliebte Adonis“ von Reinhard Keiser bei den 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.

The engagement for culture in general and this festival of the local people is inexplicable for me. Maybe it is the long tradition of culture in this town, but it is surely unique.
What to say? The location is simply a fairy tale setting… starting with the magical walk up on the hill of Grein Castle, the view over the Danube river and the amazing inner court.

The plot

If you had the pleasure to go through latin in school-time you certainly stepped over Ovid’s „Metamorphosis“. These were surely some of my really favorite treasures to translate in school time.
Well, this is where we start – the story of the Goddess Venus (Maria Weber) who gets involved with the beautiful shepherd Adonis (Maria Weiss). Well, unnecessary to mention she was of course in a relationship with Mars… and here it starts – love, beauty, jealousy. In the case of Adonis, which was my role, a certain superficial narcism dominated his character. And here I already enter as well in the world of Manuela Kloibmüller, our director and her reading of the story… Adonis loves to hunt. We supposed he was not the best hunter but full of passion for it and the rejected Dryante together with Mars longing for revanche organize the murder of this poor Adonis who will die killed by a wild boar.
Adonis has as well a love story with Eumene sung by Anna Willerding, a very sweet, happy and light music accompanies this relationship.
The love with Venus is passionate but the shadow of death and perhaps also the infidelity of Venus to Mars (well, we do not talk about Adonis who at the same time has a relationship with Eumene but is probably thinking it is his duty to make the women happy…) perhaps gives the music a dark shade.
Manuela Kloibmüller had the great idea of putting this entire setting into a „circus“, so Gelon became a clown. Markus Miesenberger plainly born for the role of a clown interpreted him in the light and funny way and all the drama became a comedy when he appeared. Mars (Michael Wagner) and Dryante (Marelize Gerber) have fantastic revenge duets and Philistus (Ulrich Cordes), settled as the sad clown by Manuela Kloibmüller triumphs at the end: he gets his beloved Eumene and even they are probably rivals he sings the most beautiful lament for Adonis.

Getting ready


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.

The musicians

This year the Orfeo Baroque Orchestra was enriched by enthusiastic young musicians, mostly (former) students of the Orfeo-musicians. It was such a pleasure to sing with them. Most of them got involved with my little son in the breaks or after-shows-meetings in playing hide and seek or simply being hunted by a crazy jelling 4 year old all through the restaurant. Things which are possible in Grein with a smile from all other guests – probably consuming the last nerves of his mother (:->) but definitely a blessing people did not get angry and that he got so many new friends to play with.
Somebody was especially chosen by my son, and I must say this never happens by chance but is a very specific choose of the young fellow: Erich Traxler, our musical director, and I am not surprised about this.
I got to know Erich years ago as a cembalist. In the mean-time he has become a professional musical director with a profound analysis and view over the oeuvre, a clear and strong leadership with us musicians, keeping always a smile and an extremely welcoming and good atmosphere which allows you to expand your musical and singer-wings with a feeling of trust and joy. So thankful for this.
My son passed the premiere party sitting on his lap and eating from his plate. He couldn’t be happier and Erich was of a kindness, sweetness and patience which he shows as well as musical director beside his definitely musical fire.
I must say that we as a cast were a little sad it was over. Michi Gaigg did say it so well in her speech: Donaufestwochen is a festival full of love, and it is. My colleagues were so nice and inspiring, Manuela Kloibmüller is a director you can only wish for, with a clear concept, embracing your new ideas and always guiding you safely through the short rehearsal time, Isabella Reder (costumes and scene) will listen to every of your needs, the organizing team of Grein (for ex. Wolfgang, Anna, Regina, Klaus, Hemma, ….) is simply heart-touching and with my singer colleagues I could have some deep talks sometimes, friendship and share mutually the esteem for each other. So, thankful!
So far so well, this is my first post on blogger, I hope you like it. Please do not mind all my english faults, I decided finally to write in English which is definitely the language I am not the best writer.
Looking forward hearing from you in your comments, thank you for sharing this post if you like it!
And – you will hear soon again from me about my next adventures in singing, music, baking, cooking or living!

Maria Weiss

Author Maria Weiss

I am singer specialized in early music, especially in the baroque repertoire. Since childhood I love fairy tales, taking photographs, baking cakes & being creative.

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