Over the years, Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre have gotten more promotional mileage out of their self-sabotage than they have ink spilled on their shambolic musical blend of the Stones, Velvets, and Summer of Love-derived transcendence. Megalomania, drug abuse, internal strife, aborted tours, and frustrated fans – it's a checklist for band destruction. And yet the Brian Jonestown Massacre endure. They got a boost outside of their sizable niche in 2003 with the release of a documentary that traced both their contentious relationship with the Dandy Warhols and Newcombe's mercurial antics/genius.
Keiser dominated the Hamburg opera scene between 1697, when Adonis was first performed, and 1717, resuming activities there some six years later. Christian Postel’s plot centres around Ovid’s celebrated account of the love affair between Adonis and Venus, who, in this version of the story is jealously watched over by Mars. Postel’s libretto is very long-winded and not well-sustained; but it offered Keiser the opportunity to provide over three-and-a-half hours of music, much of which, especially in Act III, is of enormous charm and variety. The score is a stylistic melting pot containing French and Italian ingredients as well as those of the German Lied. Some of the most beguiling music belongs to the minor roles – ‘Klagt, ihr Nymphen’ (Act III, Scene 9) brings to mind Purcell, and is among the most memorable of the arias. If the entire piece seems a daunting prospect, fear not, since arias from four of Keiser’s operas, including Adonis – though the booklet wrongly attributes one of these arias to a non-existent fourth act – appear on a single disc, sung with accomplishment and charm by Elisabeth Scholl with La Ricordanza. But the other offers a much more satisfying picture of Keiser’s ability as a dramatic composer.Nicholas Anderson