Table of Contents
2. Christiane Keilholz and the Keilholz family
3. The Keilholz sisters in Bonn and Mannheim
4. After Mannheim
On Sun, 6 ] Jun 1790, the sisters Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz made their debuts with the Nationaltheater in Mannheim, appearing as Konstanze and Blonde in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. It was the first of several guest appearances by the sisters over the space of less than three weeks—Christiane in seven different roles and Dorothea in six—that served as their tryouts for the Mannheim company. On 13 Jun they appeared in a second Mozart opera, as Donna Anna and Zerlina in Don Juan, a German adaptation of Don Giovanni. The sisters were officially engaged by the Nationaltheater in Mannheim at the beginning of July. Three months later, they sang the roles of Susanna and Cherubino in the Mannheim premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro; see our entry for 24 Oct 1790). Mozart himself may have directed the music at that premiere, and we now know that he took part in the final two rehearsals, on 22 and 23 Oct (see our entry for 22 Oct 1790).
The sisters had most recently been with the Nationaltheater in Bonn, but were seeking new employment. Christiane Keilholz’s debut as Konstanze in Mannheim seems to have been a particular success. In the review transcribed above, the correspondent to Annalen des Theaters finds her to be a compelling singing actress, particularly notable for her expressive movement and facial expression. A letter dated 16 Jun 1790 from an unknown correspondent in Mannheim to Baron Clemens August von Schall in Bonn describes the enthusiasm of the Mannheim audience at her debut:
Die Keilholz ist zu Mannheim, beim ersten debutiren, dreymal herausgeklatscht worden; wir haben sie allso vermuthlich gehabt, und werden sie sobald nicht wiederhaben, indem ihre Feindinn so hoch in Gunst, Macht und Kraft gestiegen, daß ihr keine Mücke mehr ungestraft in den Weg fliegen darf.
[quoted in Thayer 1917, i:225n1; see also i:275]
Keilholz, at her first debut in Mannheim, had three curtain calls; thus we probably have got her, and in that case you will not have her back, because her enemy has advanced so far in favor, power, and strength, that no gnat will be able to fly in her path unpunished any longer.
Christiane’s “Feindinn” (enemy) in Bonn was the soprano Magdalena Willmann.
Christiane Keilholz is little known to Mozart scholars today. Yet at the height of her career, she was among the leading sopranos of her generation on the German-language stage, and she was held in high regard as an actress in spoken theater, particularly in serious roles. Her career was marked, however, by frequent moves between companies, and for that reason, sources on her career are fragmented and scattered, contributing to her neglect. While her importance as a Mozart singer has yet to be fully gauged, there is good reason to think that she played a larger role in the early reception of Mozart’s operas than has been realized. The roles of Konstanze and Donna Anna—and later Queen of the Night—became staples of her repertoire, which she performed often. On 1 Jan 1802 in Kassel, she, her husband (the director of Kassel’s theater), and her sister performed in the earliest known production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in German. The history of Christiane’s career is also of intrinsic interest, as it provides insight into the development of her unusually large repertoire of major roles in both opera and spoken theater, and it provides a window into the unsettled life of a woman who became a star—and thus a professional and financial anchor of her parents and siblings—while still in her mid teens.
Christiane Keilholz and the Keilholz family(⇧)
The Keilholz sisters were born into the theater. Both parents were actors: Philipp Christian Keilholz (1733–1800) was born in Pirna in Saxony, and Dorothea Elisabeth Keilholz (née Brückmann) was born in Dresden (her dates are uncertain). Their son Adolf Philipp Christian Keilholz (b. 1761) is said to have made his stage debut in 1766, the same year as his father (ThK 1782, 208–9). Daughter Christiane Magdalene Elisabeth (1764–1820), who went on to have the most prominent career of anyone in her family, first appeared on stage in 1769, at the age of 4 or 5. The youngest child Dorothea Elisabeth († 1804) is likewise said to have made her stage debut in childhood.
The early history of the Keilholz family is poorly documented. Christiane is said to have been born on 16 Jul 1764 (Schweitzer 1975, 29), although the source for this date is unclear. Around 1769 (perhaps in October), the family joined the newly reconstituted theatrical company of Johann Christian Wäser (Theater-Journal für Deutschland, 1780, 14. Stück, 75–76; on Wäser, see also Pies 1973, 377–78); perhaps it was with Wäser’s company that young Christiane made her stage debut. From Oct 1772 until (apparently) some time in 1773, the family was in Hamburg (Meyer 1819, i, 228). In 1777 they were with the company of Johann Friedrich Stöfler (Stöffler) in Lübeck (LTZ, 2:xx, 15 May 1779, 306), but they left Stöfler at the end of that season. Later that year, father Philipp, son Adolf, and daughter Christiane were engaged by the theater in Hamburg, making their debuts on 18 Nov 1777 in J. H. F. Müller’s Präsentirt das Gewehr!. Johann Friedrich Schütze, in his 1794 history of theater in Hamburg, recalled the impression made by young Christiane:
Es wurden vorerst die Kinder Keilholz, ein Mädchen, ein Knabe und ihr Herr Vater, ein Emeritus, engagirt, welche am 18. Novbr.  im zweiaktigen L., Präsentirt das Gewehr! sich zuerst dem Publikum in Vater= u. Kinderrollen präsentirten. Das Mädchen, Christiane Magdal. Elisabeth, zu Pirna 1764 geb., 13 Jahr alt, eine wahrhaft schöne theatralische Figur, spielte die Therese dreist, ungezwungen. Sie hatte eine melodische Stimme, und ward in der Folge durch eines Hönicke lehrreiche Anweisungen zu einer mit Recht bewunderten Lieblingssängerin des Hamb. Publikums gebildet. Der Knabe spielte den Karl, ohne Talent für die Bühne. Gesungen hat auch er in der Folge mit Beifall. [Schütze 1794, 462]
First the Keilholz children, a girl, a boy, and their father, an emeritus—were engaged, and they made their debut before the public on 18 Nov  in roles for father and children in the two-act comedy Präsentirt das Gewehr! The girl, Christiane Magdalene Elisabeth, born 1764 in Pirna, 13 years old, a truly lovely theatrical figure, played Therese cheekily and with nonchalance. She had a melodious voice, and as a consequence of Hönicke’s educational instruction, became justifiably admired as one of the favorite female singers of the Hamburg public. The boy played Karl without talent for the stage. Subsequently he too received applause as a singer.
At that time the Hamburg theater was under the direction of Friedrich Ludwig Schröder and his mother, Sophie Charlotte Ackermann. Schütze refers to Christiane’s father as “emeritus” because of his earlier engagement in Hamburg. Johann Friedrich Hönicke (1755–1809), identified here as Christiane’s teacher, would soon became the theater’s music director. (A decade and a half later Hönicke performed the solo piano part in Mozart’s concert aria “Ch’io mi scordi di te … Non temer, amato bene,” K. 505, at the remarkable Mozart memorial concert in Hamburg on 19 Feb 1792.)
During her engagement in Hamburg (the first of several), Christiane began to attract favorable notice, both as a singer and an actress. A report on the Hamburg theater in Apr and May 1779 singles her out several times. Regarding her performance on 22 Apr, in Ernst Wilhelm Wolf’s Die Dorfdeputirten, the correspondent writes:
[...] Den Schluß machten die Dorfdeputirten, ein Stück,
das zu sehr bekannt ist, um viel davon zu sagen. [...]
Röse und Lieschen, waren Madame Schröder, Madame
Stegmann und Demoiselle Keilholz, und ganz die lieben
Weiberchen voll schalkhafter Simplicität und Koketterie. De=
moiselle Keilholz wird eine sehr gute Sängerinn, ihrem Ge=
sange fehlt nur noch Musik, sonst singt sie angenehmer, lau=
ter und mit mehr Akzion als Madame Zimdar, die diesen
Abend die Louise von Sternthal ohne alles Gefühl spielte. —
[Theater-Journal für Deutschland (1780), 16. Stück, 40–41]
[...] The close was Die Dorfdeputirten, a piece
that is too well known to require much comment. [...]
Röse, and Lieschen were Madame Schröder, Madame
Stegmann, and Mademoiselle Keilholz, utterly
darling little women, full of mischievous simplicity and
coquetry. Mademoiselle Keilholz is becoming a very good
singer; her singing still lacks musicality, but otherwise she
sings more pleasantly, with greater projection and more action
than Madame Zimdar, who this evening played Louise von
Sternthal without any feeling. —
“Madame Zimdar” was Catharina Justina Zimdar (née Benda), daughter of composer Georg Benda, and at that time first soprano of the Hamburg company. If Christiane was indeed born on 16 Jul 1764, she would still have been only 14.
Eight days later Christiane sang the role of Röschen in Das gute Mädchen, a German adaptation of Piccinni’s La buona figliuola. The correspondent was again impressed: “Besonders gefiel mir diesen Abend das kleine liebe Röschen — Keilholz, die ganz himmlisch sang” (This evening I especially liked the darling little Röschen — Keilholz, whose singing was utterly heavenly; Theater-Journal für Deutschland , 16. Stück, 51–52). On 6 May 1779, she demonstrated her talent as a singing actress in the role of Gustel in Joseph Schuster’s singspiel Der Alchymist:
— Den Beschluß
dieses Abends machte Meißners Alchymist mit Schusters
vortreflicher Musik. [...]
[...] Frau Tarnow, Madame Henke.
Recht gut. Louise, ihre Tochter, Madame Zimdar. Gu=
stel, ihr Sohn, Demoiselle Keilholz. Spielte in Manns=
kleidern sehr gut und sang die Arie: Wie durch meine
kleinste Nerven, &c. herrlich, im wahren Ton eines Be=
[Theater-Journal für Deutschland (1780), 16. Stück, 60–61]
— The close
of the evening was Meissner’s Alchymist with Schuster’s
splendid music [...]
[...] Frau Tarnow, Madame Hanke.
Quite good. Louise, her daughter, Madame Zimdar. Gustel,
her son, Mademoiselle Keilholz. She played it very well in
men’s clothes, and sang the aria “Wie durch meine kleinste
Nerven &c.” magnificently, in the true tone of someone
Christiane’s potential as an actress on the spoken stage seems already to have been recognized as well: she appeared as Macduff in a performance of Macbeth on 26Jul 1779 (LTZ, 1779, no. 46, 728).
The enterprise of Schröder and his mother ended around this time, and the Keilholz family left Hamburg at the end of Sep 1779 to join the theater in Münster. On 24 Sep Christiane made a farewell appearance in Hamburg as Gustel in Der Alchymist. Her popularity is evident from a report to the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung:
Hamburg. Den 24. Sept. nahm Mamsell Keil=
holz als Gustel im Alchymisten vom hiesigen Theater
Abschied. Dies Mädchen war hier außerordentlich
beliebt, und das Publikum sah ihren Abgang ungern.
Unstreitig hatte sie von allen unsern Sängerinnen die
beste Stimme, und sich während ihres hiesigen Au=
fenthalts im Spiele außerordentlich gebildet. Scha=
de, wenn das künftige Gebäude dem Grunde nicht
entsprechen sollte, der hier dazu gelegt worden! Sie
ist mit Vater, Mutter und Bruder nach Münster ge=
gangen, wo man auch diese vermuthlich wird gebrau=
chen wollen. Es ist auch noch eine jüngere Schwe=
ster da, die viel Anlage verräth, weiter aber kann
man von selbiger zur Zeit nichts sagen.
[LTZ, 2:xlvi, 13 Nov 1779, 736]
Hamburg. On 24 September Mademoiselle
Keilholz took leave of the theater here as Gustel
in Der Alchymist. This girl was extraordinarily popular
here, and the public was unhappy to see her go. She
indisputably had the best voice among all of our female
singers, and she has grown extraordinarily as an actress
during her engagement. It will be a pity if the future
building does not correspond to the foundation that was
laid here! She has gone to Münster with her father,
mother, and brother, where they will presumably be
of use. There is also a younger sister who shows
much aptitude, but at present nothing more can be
said of her.
Christiane was just 15. The last sentence appears to be the earliest known reference to her sister Dorothea. Her birthdate is unknown; she is said to have been born in Zerbst (ThK 1782, 209), and was evidently several years younger than Christiane.
The family may have gone to Münster in search of better opportunities for the family as a whole and for Christiane in particular. The transition is documented in the Theater-Kalender for 1780 (based on information from the previous year), in which members of the Keilholz family appear on rosters for both Hamburg and Münster. In the roster for Hamburg, Christiane is said to take “zweyte Singrollen” (secondary singing roles), behind Madame Zimdar (ThK 1780, 229). Keilholz father and son are said to take “Nebenrollen” (minor roles); the mother is not listed at all, and apparently did not have an engagement in Hamburg. In Münster, on the other hand, Christiane’s specialty is listed as “Liebhaberinnen im Sing= und Schauspiel” (romantic leads in singspiels and plays), implying that she took leading roles in both. Her mother is described as taking “Mütterrollen im Sing= und Schauspiel” (mother roles in singspiels and plays), and father and brother are also on the roster, although their specialties are not listed (ThK 1780, 248–49). Young Christiane’s capabilities were growing rapidly, and the family may have seen Münster as an opportunity for her to learn and perform leading roles of the sort that she had not yet been able to attempt in Hamburg.
However, the Keilholz family did not remain in Münster for long. In an agreement dated 30 Oct 1779, the Hamburg theater was reconstituted as a joint-stock company, and the new directorate called the Keilholz family back to Hamburg in the spring of 1780 (Schütze 1794, 487–89). Christiane made her first appearance there on 17 Apr, as Roxelane in Soliman der Zweyte, a translation of Favart’s Les Trois Sultanes, ou Soliman II. A review in the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung is positive, albeit with some caveats:
Chronik des Hamburgischen Theaters.
Den 29. eröfnete die itzige Enterprise ihre Bühne [...]
Den 17. So=
limann der Zweite, L. mit Gesängen. Zum Debüt der
Mamsell Keilholz. Die beiden ersten Akte spielt sie
recht artig, nur wär’ ihr eine geläufigere Sprache
wohl zu wünschen. Im letzten Aufzug scheint sie zu
jung zu seyn, um all die Empfindungen würklich ha=
ben zu können, wodurch Roxelane den Solimann da=
hin bringt, dem Divan, dem Mufti, dem Volk und
dem Gesetze zuwider, sie zur würklichen Kaiserin zu
erklären. Wo der Schauspieler nicht wahrhaft em=
pfindet, wie schwach und wie wenig überredend ist da
der Ausdruck. Die Stimme der Mamsell Keilholz
ist stärker und dabei eben so angenehm wie die der
Mamsell Kreß. Im Vortrage aber sollte sie diese
zum Muster nehmen, oder die Eltern sollten sich auch
das Glück ihres Kindes so sehr angelegen seyn lassen,
und ihr einen tüchtigen Singmeister halten, denn es
wär warlich Schade, wenn die Fähigkeiten dieses lie=
ben Mädchen nicht ganz entwickelt würden. [...]
[LTZ, 3:xxvii, 1 Jul 1780, 425–28]
Chronicle of the Hamburg Theater
On the 29th the current enterprise opened its season [...]
On the 17th,
Soliman der Zweite, comedy with songs. For the debut
of Mademoiselle Keilholz. In the first two acts she
performed quite agreeably, although more fluidity of
speech is probably to be desired. She seems too young
really to have all the emotions with which she induces
Soliman—the Council, the mufti, the people, and the
laws notwithstanding—to declare her the real empress.
Where the actor does not truly feel, how weak and
unconvincing is the expression. The voice of Mademoiselle
Keilholz is stronger than and just as pleasant as that of
Mademoiselle Kreß. But she should take the latter as
her example in delivery, or her parents should allow
themselves to be so invested in their child’s fortune
that they acquire a capable singing master for her; for
it would truly be a shame if the abilities of this dear
girl were not fully developed. [...]
The reviewer is comparing her with Louise Kreß (later Müller, 1763–1829). The same correspondent found Christiane to be miscast in Weisheit schätzt für Liebe nicht on 2 May, which was apparently a failure, but she was well received on 24 May as Juliette (opposite Carl David Stegmann as Dalberg), in Die abgeredete Zauberei, an adaptation of Grétry’s La Fausse Magie (LTZ, 3:liii, 30 Dec 1780, 836).
On 9 Mar 1781 Christiane took part in a memorial in Hamburg for the recently deceased Lessing; she, along with Louise Kreß and Felicitas Agnesia Benda (née Ritz), sang a chorus especially composed for the occasion by Hönicke (LTZ, 4:xiii, 31 Mar 1781, 193). A report from Hamburg in May of that year seems to imply that Christiane was now studying with Madame Benda, who had joined the company around the end of 1780:
Hamburg, vom 8 May.
Gestern ward die Operette, das Rendezvous, aus
dem Französischen, Musik von Gretry, die schon einige
mahl vorgestellet worden, nochmahl, und zwar mit dem
größten Beyfalle, auf unsre Bühne gebracht. Man
muß zwar allen in derselben vorkommenden Personen
die Gerechtigkeit wiederfahren [sic] lassen, daß sie ihre Rollen
sehr gut ausgeführt haben; besonders aber verdienten
und erhielten Madame Benda, und Mademoiselle
Keilholz den Beyfall des Publicum. Madame Benda
sang entzückend schön, so daß der eyfersüchtige Neid
selbst, wenn er nicht vorsetzlich taub seyn will, gestehen
muß, daß es in Deutschland wenige Sängerinnen giebt,
die mit ihr verglichen zu werden verdienen. Auch Ma=
demoiselle Keilholz übertraf diesmahl alle Erwartung;
ihre Talente entwickeln sich immer mehr, und unter
der Anleitung einer Benda kann es nicht fehlen, daß sie
in kurzem vortreflich werden muß.
[Reichs Post=Reuter, no. 74, Wed, 9 May 1781, (4)]
Hamburg, from 8 May.
Yesterday the operetta Das Rendezvous, from the
French, music by Grétry, which has already been
performed several times, was again brought to our
stage, and indeed with much acclaim. Indeed, one must
in all justice allow that all of the persons who appeared in
it played their roles very well; however, Madame
Benda and Mademoiselle Keilholz in particular earned
and received the public’s acclaim. Madame Benda sang
with enchanting beauty, such that jealous Envy himself,
were he not to remain intentionally deaf, must
admit that there are few singers in Germany who merit
comparison with her. Mademoiselle Keilholz, too,
exceeded all expectations this time; her talents are
developing more and more, and under the instruction of
a Benda, she cannot fail soon to become excellent.
Das Rendezvous (perhaps an adaptation of Grétry’s L'Amant jaloux) had first been performed in Hamburg on 9 Feb 1781; the performance on 7 May 1781 was the sixth, and the first since 1 Mar.
By this time, the joint-stock company had run up a deficit of 20,000 marks and the Hamburg theater was reorganized yet again under Hans Andreas Dreyer, one of the stockholders (Schütze 1794, 499–501). At Easter 1781, Schröder and his wife left Hamburg to accept an engagement in Vienna, depriving the company of two of its best actors. Christiane soon had competition in the Hamburg company: on 30 Apr, Minna Brandes (Charlotte Wilhelmina Franziska Brandes, 1765–1788) made her Hamburg debut as a singer, in the role of Parthenia in Wieland and Schweitzer’s Alceste (with Christiane singing the title role):
Hamburg den 7. Mai 1781.
[...] Wielands Alceste hat nicht die gehofte Aufnah=
me gehabt. Madam Benda als Parthenia gab sich sehr
viele Mühe, auch Mamsell Keilholz und Hr. Lampe;
aber was die baueten, das riß Demmer als Herkules
wieder nieder. Zum Debüt der Minna Brandes, wel=
che eine der Mamsell Keilholz ähnliche Stimme, aber
mehr Fertigkeit hat, wurde diese Oper zum dritten und
letztenmal gegeben. [...] [LTZ, 4:xxiv, 16 Jul 1781, 376–77]
Hamburg 7 May 1781.
[...] Wieland’s Alceste did not have the hoped-for
success. Madame Benda took great pains, as did
Mademoiselle Keilholz and Herr Lampe; but what
they built, Demmer as Herkules tore down again.
This opera was given for the third and last time
for the debut of Minna Brandes, whose voice is
similar to Mademoiselle Keilholz’s, but has more
Brandes was still only 15, and thus younger than Christiane, who would turn 17 in July. But according to the correspondent to the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung, Brandes did not make as great an impression as expected as a singer:
sell Brandes macht hier mit ihrem Singen nicht so viel
Aufsehen als ich geglaubt habe. Es kommt wohl da=
her, weil Mamsell Keilholz und Madam Benda schon
vor ihr hier waren. Erstere ist sehr beliebt, singt
auch gut, und leztere steigt täglich mehr und mehr, ih=
re Stimme hat itzt einen grössern Umfang in der Tiefe
und Höhe bekommen.
[LTZ, 4:xxx, 28 Jul 1781, 478–79]
Brandes did not cause as great a sensation here with her
singing as I would have thought. It is probably because
Mademoiselle Keilholz and Madame Benda were
already here. The first is very popular, and sings well,
and the latter grows daily more and more: her
voice has now achieved a greater range in the
low and high registers.
Minna Brandes and Christiane Keilholz appeared together that season in at least one other opera, Das Urtheil des Midas (a German version of Grétry’s Le Jugement de Midas), with Minna as Doris and Christiane as Chloe; the opera proved to be quite popular in Hamburg and was given eight times in all between its premiere on 27 Aug 1781 and the end of the year. This first encounter between Minna Brandes and Christiane Keilholz lasted only a few months: the Brandes family left the Hamburg company in Mar 1782 at the end of the season to join the theater in Riga. Madame Benda departed as well.
With Benda and Minna Brandes gone, Christiane Keilholz (still just 17) became the lead soprano in the Hamburg singspiel. The roster for the Hamburg company in the Theater-Kalender for 1783 (based on information from the previous year) is the first to include all five members of the Keilholz family; it is also the first to list Hönicke as music director:
Herr Hönike. [...]
Keilholz, alte Weiber, Mütter. Mams. Keilholz
die ältere, erste Liebhaberinnen im Singspiel.
Mams. Keilholz die jüngere, angehende Mädchen,
Knaben, singt. [...]
Vater, Alte. H. Keilholz Sohn, zweyte Tenor=
Hr. und Mad. Benda. Hr. Mad. Mams. Bran=
[ThK 1783, 267–69]
Now that both sisters were in the company, Christiane was referred to as Mademoiselle Keilholz “die ältere” and Dorothea as “die jüngere.” The same volume of the Theater-Kalender includes an anonymous panegyric to Christiane, in 25 quatrains of gushing trochaic pentameter over four pages. The opening gives the flavor:
Mademoiselle Keilholz, die ältere.
Wenn im Drange trüber Fantaseien [sic]
Mein gepreßtes, volles Herz sich engt;
Und Natur zu neuen Schreckgestalten
Rings um mich die schwarzen Farben mengt;
Wenn erhöhter Nachgefühle Bängstes
Sich mit Ahndung banger Zukunft paart;
Und Vergessenheit die Zauberschale
Geizig nur für meine Freuden spaart;
O dann wagt kein dämmernd Bild der Won=
ne – – –
Blinden würds den ausgeweinten Blick! – – –
Sich hervor; zergeht, wie Mondenschimmer
In geschwollnen Wolken fließt zurück. [&c. &c.]
[ThK 1783, 23]
On 27 May 1782 Christiane, still just 17, appeared in the title role of Die schöne Arsene (a German version of Monsigny’s La Belle Arsène); the correspondent to the Litteratur- und Theater-Zeitung describes her fervid reception:
Den 27. die schöne Arsene. Mamsell Keilholz
hatte die Rolle der Arsene nach dem Abgang der Ma=
dam Benda, die gegenwärtig nebst ihrem Manne bei
dem Kammerchor des Herzogs von Mecklenburg=Schwe=
rin, unter sehr ansehnlichen Bedingungen, angestellt ist,
übernommen, und ihre artige Figur, der Umgang und
die Stärke ihrer Kehle, die wirklich nahe an die ihrer
Vorgängerin gränzt, und eine Rede vor der Auffüh=
rung selbst, in der sie das Publikum um Nachsicht bat,
verschafte ihr den lautesten, schreiendsten Beifall. [...]
[LTZ, 5:xxxii, 10 Aug 1782, 505]
The 27th. Die schöne Arsene. Mademoiselle
Keilholz had taken over the role of Arsene upon
the departure of Madame Benda, who is currently
engaged along with her husband in the Kammerchor
of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin under very
respectable conditions. Her [Christiane’s] agreeable
figure, the range and strength of her voice, which
nearly approaches that of her predecessor, and
her discourse prior to the performance itself, in which
she asked the public for its indulgence, brought
her the loudest and most clamorous applause. [...]
One suspects that Christiane was especially popular with the young men in the Hamburg audience.
In the first half of the 1780s the Hamburg theater suffered from continual instability under a succession of managements, and Dreyer’s enterprise—which employed the entire Keilholz family—collapsed after the season 1782/83. There were no performances at all in the Hamburg theater between 26 Mar and 1 Sep 1783, when it reopened under the direction of Abel Seyler. The only Keilholz on the roster of Seyler’s company was son Adolf, who (in spite of his wooden acting) stayed on as first tenor (ThK 1784, 237).
But the Keilholz sisters, although apparently not formal members of the company, made a handful of appearances during the first few months of Seyler’s new enterprise. On 24 Sep 1783, Christiane reprised the title role in Die schöne Arsene; on 27 Oct she played Zemire in Zemire und Azor (Grétry); on 24 Nov she appeared as Luise in Der Deserteur (Monsigny); and on 17 Dec, she took the role of Violante in the Hamburg premiere of Das Mädchen von Fraskati (Paiseillo’s La frascatana). Dorothea appeared in just one role during this span: as Dortchen in Die drey Pächter (Desaïdes).
Following the performance on 17 Dec 1783, neither sister performed on the Hamburg stage for nearly a year; as we shall see, the family may have had a patron, and the sisters may have had the opportunity to study and develop their skills without the grind of frequent performances. Brother Adolf, on the other hand, continued to perform on the Hamburg stage during the first half of 1784 (mostly but not exclusively in operas); but following his appearance on 21 Jul as Lucas in Georg Benda’s Die Dorfjahrmarkt, he too left the company. We do not know whether the Keilholz siblings continued to live in Hamburg through the summer 1784, but if they did, they would have had the opportunity to witness the guest appearances of Aloysia and Joseph Lange, on tour from Vienna (see our entry for 29 Sep 1784).
Seyler abruptly quit his management of the Hamburg theater in May 1784, and his contract was taken over by actors Franz Anton Zuccarini and Christian Wilhelm Klos (Schütze 1794, 533). Initially, the Hamburg company under Zuccarini and Klos was in dire straits and the directors were reduced to such expedients as having two Italian singers from a visiting company sing (in Italian) the roles of Violante and Fabrizio in a performance (in German) of Das Mädchen von Fraskati on 16 Jun 1784. However, Zuccarini and Klos were gradually able to engage new actors and singers for the company, including tenors Johann Philipp Norman and a “Herr Arnold”—almost certainly Ferdinand Arnold, who had been a member of the National Singspiel in Vienna in 1778, sang the role of Belmonte in the premiere of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Warsaw on 8 May 1783, and joined the resurrected singspiel company in Vienna in Sep 1785.
In Nov 1784, the Keilholz sisters (but not Adolf) were again engaged by the Hamburg company. Dorothea made her debut on 1 Nov as Florine in André’s Das Automat, oder: Die redende Maschine, and Christiane made her debut in the title role of Die schöne Arsene on 17 Nov. Zuccarini and Klos also brought the Brandes family back to Hamburg. They arrived later than expected, in late Nov 1784, by which time most roles had already been assigned. Thus at first, Minna Brandes did not appear in theatrical productions, instead giving a series of concerts (she was also a pianist and composer)—although Schütze (1794, 540) says these were not well attended. Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz performed together in several operas: as Donna Flavia and Vittorina in Die Eifersucht auf der Probe (after Anfossi, first given on 25 Nov), as Violante and Lisette in Das Mädchen von Fraskati (initially on 3 Dec), and as Sophie and Dorchen in Walder (after Marmontel’s Silvain, first given on 30 Dec). On 3 Jan 1785 (repeated on 21 Feb), Christiane appeared as Rosine in Der Barbier von Sevilla, a German adaptation of Beaumarchais’s play, with music by Friedrich Ludwig Benda. On 1 Feb the Keilholz sisters performed the roles of Hannchen and Lisette in Wer’s Glück hat, führt die Braut heim, oder: Im Trüben ist gut fischen, a German adaptation of Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode (see also Ephemeriden i:13, 16 Mar 1785, 199–200).
After the Easter break in 1785, the Hamburg theater opened under the new management team of Brandes and Klos. Now that her father was a director, Minna Brandes began to appear in many roles, in both operas and spoken plays. Already in the opening performance of the new enterprise on 30 Mar 1785, Minna took the role of Julie in her father’s play Constanzie von Detmold; she made her operatic debut the following day as Kalliste in Robert und Kalliste (after Guglielmi’s La sposa fedele). Over the coming months, Minna Brandes maintained a very full schedule of performances as a singer and actress; among many other roles, she appeared on 18 May 1785 as the Countess (Die Gräfin) in the Hamburg premiere of Der lustige Tag, oder: Figaro’s Hochzeit, a German translation of Beaumarchais’s play, with music by Karl Hanke. The play was a hit in Hamburg and was performed 15 times in all over the course of that season. The Keilholz sisters were not initially members of the new company under Brandes and Klos, and nothing is known of their activities or whereabouts during the first months of the company’s season.
At some point during the season Ferdinand Arnold had a dispute of some sort with the directors, and the dispute ended up in court (Schütze 1794, 548–49). The judgement required the theater to pay Arnold three months’ salary, but for him to begin acting with the company again; however, he decamped from Hamburg on 20 Jul, the day before he was scheduled to make his return, in Ignaz Umlauf’s Die pücefarbnen Schuhe (Die schöne Schusterin). His departure left the company without a first tenor (in Sep 1785, Arnold joined the singspiel company of the court theater in Vienna). In Hamburg Arnold was replaced by Adolf Keilholz, who made his debut on 1 Aug 1785 as Lukas in Georg Benda’s Der Jahrmarkt, with Minna Brandes as Bärbchen. Adolf and Minna appeared together in many leading operatic roles over the following months. Adolf also occasionally took secondary roles in plays; Minna often took major ones, including, notably, Ophelia in a performance of Hamlet on 20 Sep, with prominent actor, writer, and director August Wilhelm Iffland in the title role.
The Keilholz sisters first appeared again on the Hamburg stage on 21 Sep 1785, with Christiane as Hannchen and Dorothea as Lisette in Sarti’s Im Trüben ist gut fischen, with Adolf in the role of Der Verwalter. This opera was repeated on 6 Oct, 17 Nov, and 2 Dec; initially, however, it was the only work in which Christiane appeared (Dorothea also played Hannchen in Der Deserteur, with Adolf as Alexis and Minna Brandes as Luise).
The status of the Keilholz sisters in the company of Brandes and Klos is uncertain. In the Theater-Kalender, they appear on the company’s roster for that season:
Direkteurs: H. H. Brandes und Klos. Mu=
sikdirekteurs: H. H. Hanke und Hönike. [...]
Mlle. Brandes, erste Sän=
gerin in der Oper und erste zärtliche Liebhaberin=
nen im Lust= und Trauerspiel. [...]
Mlle. Keilholz, die ältere, erste Sängerin
in der Oper (alternirt mit Mlle. Brandes) Mlle.
Keilholz, die jüngere, zweyte Sängerin in der
Oper, naive Mädchen. [...]
erster Tenorist in der Oper. [...]
[ThK 1786, 175]
Here it is said that Christiane Keilholz and Minna Brandes “alternated” leading operatic roles. But in fact, during the first two months following her debut in Sarti’s opera, Christiane appeared only in that role and (perhaps) one other (Hermia in Ruprecht’s Was erhält die Männer treu, on 11 Nov). Minna, on the other hand, appeared in many roles, in both operas and plays, and maintained a very full performing schedule. An anonymous correspondent to Ephemeriden des Theaters suggests that the Keilholz sisters were not formally engaged by the company:
16ten Septemb. liessen sich in Zemire und Azor die
beiden Demois. Keilholz auf unsrer Bühne wiederse=
hen. Sie sollen nicht engagirt seyn, sondern nur aus
[Emphemeriden, ii:50, 10 Dec 1785, 381]
16 September, the two Demoiselles Keilholz were
again seen on our stage, in Zemire und Azor. They
are said not to be engaged, but rather to perform
at their own pleasure.
But this may have been hearsay: the correspondent has the sisters making their debut in the wrong opera on the wrong day: Zemire und Azor was indeed given on 16 Sep, but with Minna Brandes as Zemire and a Demoiselle Dohm as Lisbe (the role that Dorothea Keilholz presumably would have taken). Christiane and Dorothea actually made their debuts five days later in Sarti’s Im Trüben ist gut fischen.
In the third volume of his autobiography, published in 1800, Brandes implies that he acquired all three Keilholz siblings for the new Hamburg company in 1785 in order to boost the flagging singspiel. His account glosses over the chronological and casting details of their return, but it provides one of our few glimpses into the personal lives of the Keilholz family (albeit from a witness who was anything but disinterested):
Noch ein harter Stoß stand mir vor, dem ich, bei
aller Vorsicht, nicht auszuweichen vermochte.
Die Stelle des entwichenen Sängers Arnold war,
nach einiger Zeit, durch einen ziemlich guten Teno=
risten, Namens Keilholz *) wieder besetzt wor=
den; auch gelang es mir, dessen beide Schwestern,
welche sich während der vorigen Direktion der Bühne
entzogen hatten, und von denen die ältere sich durch
ihre schöne Stimme und einen guten Vortrag jetzt
noch mehr als ehedem empfahl, gegen billige Bedin=
gungen wieder zu unserm Theater zu ziehen; wo=
durch also die bisher ziemlich gesunkene Operette
nicht allein Vollständigkeit, sondern sogar Glanz
erhielt. Auch das Schauspiel fing an, sich nach
und nach immer mehr zu ründen; das Publikum
äußerte Zufriedenheit, und ich glaubte nun endlich
einmal den Lohn für meine vielen Arbeiten in Ruhe
ärndten zu können; aber leider wurde auch diese
Hoffnung sehr bald wieder vereitelt!
*) Er hatte ehedem schon bei mehrern Theatern ge=
standen, wurde auf Verwendung eines angese=
henen Kaufmanns, der seine Familie in Pro=
tektion genommen hatte, Lieutenant in hol=
ländischen Diensten, trug einige Zeit die
Uniform, doch ohne zum Regiment abzugehen,
und ging nun wieder, auf Anrathen des nämlichen
Gönners, als Sänger zur Operette über.
[Brandes 1800, 147–48]
Yet another hard blow awaited me, which I was, even
with every precaution, unable to avoid. The position
of the absconded singer Arnold was, after some time,
filled by a quite good tenor named Keilholz *). I also
succeeded in acquiring for our theater under favorable
conditions his two sisters, who had withdrawn from the
stage under the previous directorate, and the elder of
whom recommended herself to me now even more
than before through her beautiful voice and good
delivery; whereby the operetta—which had, up to now,
declined considerably—not only became complete but
even achieved brilliance. The spoken theater also began
little by little to round itself out; the public expressed
satisfaction, and I believed that finally for once I would
be able peacefully to reap the reward for all my hard
work; but unfortunately this hope was also quite soon
*) He [Keilholz] had previously already been with several
theaters, and had been made a lieutenant in Dutch service
through the intercession of a prominent merchant who
had taken the family under his protection. He wore the
uniform for some time but without joining the regiment,
and on the advice of said patron, returned to the operetta
as a singer.
In the footnote, Brandes tells us that the Keilholz family was at that time under the protection of a prominent merchant (whose identity remains unknown), and that at the merchant’s recommendation, Adolf had been appointed lieutenant in a Dutch regiment, which (Brandes claims) he never actually joined, returning instead to singing full time. It may be that the support of the merchant, if it was in part financial, allowed the Keilholz sisters to appear selectively on stage, rather than maintaining the full schedule that formal engagement by the Hamburg company would have required.
Brandes hints at trouble with the Keilholz family, and trouble there soon was. On 23 Nov 1785, Christiane Keilholz and Minna Brandes appeared together in Hamburg in Das Narrenspital, a German version of Salieri’s La scuola de’ gelosi; the performance was a benefit for Christiane and Dorothea.
When the reprise on 28 Nov took in more money than her benefit performance five days earlier, Christiane reportedly withdrew from a promised third performance, claiming illness:
[...] Den 23. [Nov 1785] das Nar=
renhospital, O. in 2 A. gefiel ausserordentlich, beson=
ders weil die Demois. Brandes und Keilholz im Gesan=
ge wetteiferten. Hr. Salieri würde sich zwar gewundert
haben, seinen Namen auf dem Zettel zu sehen, und doch
so viel fremde Musik, sogar das Rondeau von André:
Sind wir gleich im Anfang blöde &c. die Polonaise von
Schuster und Arien mit obligaten Violinen und Fagots
zu hören, an die er nicht gedacht, und die beide Sänge=
rinnen, um zu brilliren, einander zum Troz hineingewor=
fen hatten, indessen brachte es der Kasse Geld. Den 28.
wurde diese Oper wiederholt. Weil heute die Einnah=
me grösser war als das erstemal, wo sie zum Benefiz der
Mlle. Keilholz gegeben worden, und diese auch bemerkte,
daß die Faktion der Mlle. Brandes grösser als die ihrige
sey, so machte sie sich krank, als das Singspiel zum drit=
tenmal gegeben werden sollte. Mlle. Keilholz hätte für
ihr Benefiz noch dreimal singen müssen, demungeachtet
gaben die Dirketeurs ihre Kaprice nach. [...]
[Ephemeriden, iii:10, 11 Mar 1786, 154–55]
[...] On the 23rd [Nov 1785],
Das Narrenspital, Opera in 2 acts, pleased extraordinarily,
particularly because Mademoiselles Brandes and Keilholz
competed in singing. Herr Salieri would indeed have been
surprised to see his name on the poster when he heard so
much unfamiliar music that he had not thought of, including
the rondeau by André, “Sind wir gleich im Anfang blöde &c.”,
Schuster’s polonaise, and arias with obbligato violins and
bassoons, which had been inserted so that the two singers
could try to outshine each other; besides, it brought money
into the till. On the 28th, this opera was reprised. Because
the receipts that day were higher than the first time, which
had been given for the benefit of Mademoiselle Keilholz,
and she also noticed that the faction for Mademoiselle Brandes
was larger than hers, she claimed to be sick when the
singspiel was to be given a third time. Mademoiselle Keilholz
was supposed to have sung three times for the benefit, but
the directors nevertheless indulged her caprices.
(On the rondeau “Sind wir gleich im Anfang blöde,” see the Notes below.)
The incident was also reported at length in Journal aller Journale later in 1786. The correspondent remarks that the opera repertory in Hamburg had been stagnant for a time, with only two new operas having been given in the prior six months. But (the correspondent continues) the management could perhaps be forgiven for this, as it was in part the consequence of the contretemps with Mademoiselle Keilholz:
[...] Man könnte in-
dessen zu ihrer Entschuldigung vielleicht den
Zwist zwischen der Mamsell Keilholz und der
Direktion anführen, und diesem Vorfall einen
Theil des Fehlers zueignen. Ob bei dieser Miss-
helligkeit Mamsell Keilholtz allein der schuldi-
ge Theil ist, oder ob der Direktion auch etwas
zur Last gelegt werden kann, davon bin ich
nicht hinreichend unterrichtet; das Publikum
hat sich indessen zu Gunsten der Direktion er-
klärt, und ich, zu Folge der Regel, vox populi,
vox dei, bin nicht abgeneigt, ihm beizupflichten;
dem sei wie ihm wolle, es ist gewiss, das Pu-
blikum hat unter diesen tracasserien gelitten. Das
Narrenspital, eine komische Oper von Saglieri,
ward zum Benefiz der Mamsell Keilholtz ein-
studiert, und nachdem man es zweimal mit vie-
lem Beifall gegeben hatte, beliebten diese, nicht
ferner aufzutreten, und das Narrenspital, worin
das Publikum sie gerne zu sehen schien, ward also un-
Eine Folge davon war, dass eine lange Zeit
hindurch keine Singspiele, wenigstens keins der
neueren, gegeben wurde, bis Madame Hanke die
Rolle der Mamsell Brandes und letztere die der
Mamsell Keilholtz übernahm [...]
Wenn ein Theil des Publikums glaubte, Sa-
glieri’s Oper, die Schule der Eifersucht, zu
hören; so hat er sich sehr geirrt; die Sänger-
innen hatten das Stück so castrirt, dass nichts
als ein Skelet oder vielmehr die Finale nach-
blieben. Jede der beiden ersten Sängerinnen
hatten ihre zwei vorzüglichen Arien wegge-
worfen, und andre, ihren Launen anpassendere,
dafür eingeschoben; sogar die kleine Mamsell
Keilholtz war mit der Composition des guten
Saglieri unzufrieden gewesen; auch sie hatte
ihre Arie ausrangirt und eine andre ihrem reifen
Geschmack gemässere dafür gewählt. [...]
[Journal aller Journale, vol. 2 (1786), 180–82]
one can perhaps in their defense point to
the conflict between Mademoiselle Keilholz
and the directors, and attribute part of the
failure to this circumstance. Whether Mademoiselle
Keilholz alone was the guilty party in this
quarrel, or whether some blame can also be
laid on the directors, I am insufficiently informed;
the public, however, has spoken in favor
of the directors, and I, following the rule
vox populi, vox dei, am not disinclined to
agree with them, be things as they may; for
it is certain that the public has suffered from this
annoyance. Das Narrenspital, a comic opera
by Salieri, was rehearsed for the benefit of
Mademoiselle Keilholz, and after it had been
given twice to much applause, she did not
deign to appear further, and Das Narrenspital—
in which the public seemed to enjoy seeing
her—was thus left hanging.
A consequence was that throughout a long
period, no singspiels, at least no new ones,
were given, until Madame Hanke took over
the role of Mademoiselle Brandes and the latter
the role of Mademoiselle Keilholz [...]
If a part of the public believed that it
was hearing Salieri’s opera Die Schule
der Eifersucht, it was badly mistaken; the
singers had so castrated the piece, that
nothing but a skeleton—or rather the Finale—
remained. Both of the two leading singers
had thrown out their two principal arias and
inserted others better suited to their whims;
even little Mademoiselle Keilholz [Dorothea]
was unsatisfied with the composition of the
good Salieri, and had discarded her aria,
and chosen another that better suited her
mature taste. [...]
Brandes, in his autobiography, does not mention Das Narrenspital or Christiane’s competition with his daughter Minna, but he does describe Christiane’s temperamental behavior, claiming that she was led into it by her parents:
Demoiselle Keilholz die ältere, welche sich
einige Zeit sehr freundschaftlich gegen mich betragen,
und für das Beste der Bühne mit möglichster An=
strengung gearbeitet hatte, fing an, wider alles Er=
warten, willkürlich zu handeln; sie sang nicht,
wenn es ihre Pflicht forderte, sondern wenn sie sich
dazu geneigt fühlte, und da ich deshalb ernstlich mit
ihr sprach, entzog sie sich gänzlich der Bühne, so
auch ihre Schwester. Dieß geschah indeß nicht aus
eignem Antrieb — denn beide Personen hatten kein
böses Herz — sondern auf Verlangen ihrer Ael=
tern, welche aus Eigensinn und übertriebenem Ei=
gennutz meiner Wohlfahrt nicht achteten, und die
ihnen ehedem von mir erwiesenen Wohltaten, da
sie sich jetzt in einigem Wohlstande befanden, nicht
allein vergessen zu haben schienen, sondern solche
noch sogar mit Undank lohnten.
[Brandes 1800, 148]
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder, who for some
time had behaved in a very friendly manner with me
and had done her utmost for the good of the company,
began, against every expectation, to act capriciously;
she did not sing when duty demanded it, but rather
when she felt like it, and because I spoke with her
seriously about this, she withdrew entirely from the
stage, as did her sister. However, this did not happen
through their own initiative — for neither of them had
evil hearts — but rather at the demand of their
parents, who out of obstinacy and self-interest did
not heed my welfare, and who seemed not only to have
forgotten the good deeds that I had previously done
them that put them in their current prosperous
situation, but even rewarded these with ingratitude.
The theater’s posters tell a somewhat more complicated story. On 29 Nov, the day after the second performance of Das Narrenspital, Minna Brandes appeared in the title of role of Plümicke’s Lanassa. But a performance of the play Die Schauspielerschule, announced for 1 Dec, had to be canceled at the last minute and a different work performed because Minna was ill. Meanwhile, Christiane Keilholz appeared in Im Trüben ist gut fischen on 2 Dec, and on 8 Dec she performed the title role of Die schöne Arsene (which most recently had been Minna’s role). This was, however, Christiane’s final performance with the Brandes–Klos company, and it turned out to be her last in Hamburg until 1800. Minna Brandes reappeared in the theater on 12 Dec in Die Schauspielerschule, and resumed a full (even brutal) performing schedule after that. Das Narrenspital was finally given for a third time on 16 Jan 1786, now with Madame Hanke as Gräfin von Thalhof (Christiane’s role on 23 and 28 Nov) and Mademoiselle Dohm as Suschen (Dorothea’s former role). Minna Brandes again appeared as Gräfin von Milbach, and Adolf Keilholz, who at least initially remained with the company, appeared as her husband, Graf von Milbach. Whatever the full story behind the contretemps between Christiane Keilholz and the theater’s directors, it would not be the only “prima donna” incident in her career.
Adolf maintained a regular schedule of performances with the company in Jan 1786. On 31 Jan, the opera Circe und Ulysses had its premiere in Hamburg, with music by Gioacchino Alberterini on a text by Jonas Ludwig von Heß; Adolf took the role of Ulysses and Minna Brandes that of Circe. Of Adolf’s performance, a correspondent to Journal aller Journale wrote:
Den Ulysses machte Hr. Keilholtz; es wäre
kein Wunder, wenn sich bei dessen elenden
Spiel der eigentliche Ulysses im Grabe umge-
wandt hätte; jedoch muss man seinen vortreffli-
chen Gesang als hinreichenden Ersatz für seine
erbärmliche Declamation annehmen.
[Journal aller Journale, vol. 2 (1786), 184]
Ulysses was Herr Keilholz; it would
be no wonder if the real Ulysses had turned
over in his grave at the former’s miserable
acting; however, one must take his
excellent singing as sufficient compensation
for his pathetic declamation.
On 6 Feb Adolf absconded from Hamburg with a Madame Ohlhorst:
Den 6ten Februar entfernte sich heimlich Hr. Keilholz
mit einer gewissen Mad. Ohlhorst, die er jezt für seine
[Ephemeriden, iii:10, 11 Mar 1786, 156]
On 6 February Herr Keilholz departed secretly with
a certain Madame Ohlhorst, whom he now passes off
as his wife.
This may have been Marianne Ohlhorst (née Schuch, b. 1768), who had made a guest appearance in Hamburg with her husband Johann Christian Ohlhorst on 2 Sep 1784 in the singspiel Der Dorfjahrmarkt (it is said that she was previously married to a G. G. Bürger). As Brandes tells the story of Adolf’s elopement:
Bald darauf heirathete der Sänger Keilholz
eine Schauspielerinn, welche nach Hamburg
gekommen war, um bei unserm Theater Engage=
ment zu suchen, das ich ihr aber, weil sie ihres mo=
ralischen Charakters halber nicht in dem besten Rufe
stand, nicht gewähren konnte. So wie jene Ver=
bindung bekannt wurde, verbreitete sich zugleich das
Gerücht, daß die Neuverheirathete noch meh=
rere Männer, von denen sie nicht geschieden sei, am
Leben habe; man sprach von einer nähern gerichtli=
chen Untersuchung dieser Sache; der junge Ehe=
mann wurde gewarnt; er fürchtete Gefahr für
seine Frau, und nahm, um sie zu retten, schleu=
nigst mit ihr die Flucht. Sonach war nun die
Operette aufs neue zerrissen, und da sie bisher
meine ergiebigste Quelle, woraus ich mit einiger Zu=
versicht schöpfen konnte, gewesen war, so gerieth
ich durch diesen ganz unerwarteten doppelten Ver=
lust, mehr als jemals in Verlegenheit.
[Brandes 1800, 149–50]
Soon afterwards the singer Keilholz married an
actress who had come to Hamburg to seek an
engagement with our theater, to which I could,
however, not consent, because her moral character
did not have the best reputation. Thus when that
union was made known, the rumor spread at the
same time that the Newlywed still had several living
husbands from whom she was not divorced; a judicial
investigation into the matter was discussed; the young
husband was warned; he feared danger for his wife,
and in order to save her, fled with her as quickly as
possible. And so the operetta was once again torn
asunder, and since up to then it had been my richest
source, from which I could draw with some confidence,
I fell into difficulty even more than before through this
unexpected double loss.
By “double loss” Brandes means the loss of the Keilholz sisters, followed soon after by the loss of their brother Adolf. He continues:
Zufälligerweise erfuhr ich des Flüchtlings
Aufenthalt; ich schrieb also an ihn, verwies ihm
seine Unbesonnenheit, stellte ihm die für mich dar=
aus entstandenen höchst nachtheiligen Folgen lebhaft
vor Augen, und suchte ihn durch Bitten und Dro=
hungen, wenigstens für seine Person, wieder zur
Rückkehr zu bewegen.
[Brandes 1800, 150]
I accidentally learned the fugitive’s location;
so I wrote to him, rebuked him for his rashness,
placed vividly before his eyes the extremely
disadvantageous consequences resulting for me ,
and sought to persuade him through pleas and
threats, at least for himself, to return again.
Brandes reproduces in full Adolf’s answering letter, complete with misspellings (presumably dialectical): for example, swapping /d/ and /t/ (making Adolf sound as if he had a bad cold), “feunde” for “Feinde,” and “eugen” for “eigen.” The opening gives the flavor:
“Ihren Brief habe ich richtig erhalden; sie ma=
chen mir darinnen vorwerfe die ich nich vertiene.
Meine feunde habe es so weid gebracht, Son=
stens wierde ich nie den Schrid gedahn haben
den ich nun duhn müste; es duht mir in der
sele weh, ihnen in der verlegenheit zu setzen
worin sie nun sind, aber mein eugen wohl hienk
davon ab, oder ich müste mich der schande breiß
geben und das würden sie selbst nich gedahn ha=
ben, was den wecksel betrift werde ich ihnen
um die bestimte Zeit zahlen duhn. [...]”
[Brandes 1800, 150]
[I have duly received your letter; in it you make accusations against me that I do not deserve. My enemies have brought it to this point, otherwise I would never have taken the step that I now had to take; I hurts my soul to have placed you in the difficulty you are now in, but my own well-being is at stake, or I would have to face up to the disgrace, and even you would not have done that. As for the bill of exchange, I will pay you at the appointed time.]
In a footnote, Brandes notes that Adolf only ever paid back half of what he owed.
Adolf joined the company of Jean (Johann) Tilly, who had taken over Stöfler’s company on the latter’s death in 1781. Tilly began a season in nearby Altona on 12 Jun 1786 with a performance of Das Mädchen von Fraskati, with Adolf in the leading tenor role (Ephemeriden, iv:29, 22 Jul 1786, 93). Adolf and “Madame Keilholz”—evidently the woman with whom he had eloped—appear on the roster of Tilly’s company for 1787 (ThK 1788, 210).
The Brandes-Klos directorate in Hamburg dissolved at the end of the season 1785/86. On 1 Oct 1786 Klos signed a contract with Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann to be co-director with Großmann of a new theater company (see Rüppel 2010, 350–51). It consisted of actors assembled by Großmann, supplemented by several members of the recently dissolved company of Ludwig Schmidt (about whom see our entry for 25 Aug 1785), plus Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz, who came with Klos. The new Großmann-Klos company opened a season in Cologne on 5 Oct 1786, giving three performances per week until 19 Nov (Wolter 1901, Beilage 2, xxviii–xxix). Little is known about the company’s casting of roles during this engagement, but the works performed included Im Trüben ist gut fischen (8 Oct), which had been in the sisters’ repertoire in Hamburg. The company performed Der Alchymist twice in Cologne (22 Oct and 12 Nov); Christiane had sung the boy’s role of Gustel in this opera in Hamburg in 1779, but the performances with Großmann-Klos would presumably have given her the opportunity to take a leading female role. Up to now, Christiane had not taken major roles in spoken theater, but it is possible that she began to do so during this time, perhaps inspired by her rivalry with Minna Brandes, who excelled at both. Among other things, Christiane’s short time with the Großmann-Klos company may have been her opportunity to perform Lessing’s Emilia Galotti—a work she would have seen often in Hamburg, but did not perform there—which the company gave on 19 Oct 1786, and Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe, which the company performed on 19 Nov; Christiane would go on to take leading roles in performances of both plays in Mannheim in 1790. The Großmann-Klos company began a season in Düsseldorf on 22 Nov; little seems to be known about the company’s repertory there, but it appears to have prepared several new singspiels for the engagement (Rüppel 2010, 353).
The company was again in Cologne at the beginning of the new year. But the three-month-old partnership was already in trouble. On 10 Jan 1787, Klos appealed to the local authorities for help, citing deficiencies in Großmann’s bookkeeping, and claiming that Großmann had been hiding expenditures and debts. Großmann published his response, charging Klos with incompetence in the theater—that he could not write German, act, or read music—and claiming that Klos’s own bookkeeping was not in order. The authorities in Cologne, irritated by Großmann’s public airing of the dirty laundry, ruled in favor of Klos, and had all of Großmann’s effects (including his theatrical effects and library) impounded. Großmann gave the members of the company the option of signing an agreement to remain with him or to go with Klos. Most elected to remain with Großman, but the Keilholz sisters decided to await the outcome of the dispute (on the Großmann-Klos affair, see principally Rüppel 2010, 354ff). In the end, the Großmann-Klos enterprise was dissolved. Großmann continued on with a company formed of the members who had elected to remain with him. Klos formed a short-lived company of his own, the roster for which was published in the Theater-Kalender for 1789 (well after it had disbanded). Klos’s company included Christiane, Dorothea, and Adolf Keilholz, as well as Adolf’s (apparent) wife.
Aktrizen im Singspiel. [...]
Demois. Keilholz die Ältere, alle
erste Liebhaberinnen, Demois. Keilholz die
Jüngere Liebhaberinnen und naive Rollen.
Mad. Keilholz, Liebhaberinnen und Kammer=
holz, alle erste Liebhaber. [...]
holz die Aeltere, erste Liebhaberinnen, Dem.
Keilholz die Jüngere, Liebhaberinnen, naive
Rollen und Kammermädchen. Mad. Keilholz.
[ThK 1789, 173–74]
The roster lists Christiane as taking “first romantic leads” in both opera and plays, Dorothea as taking “second romantic leads” and naive roles in opera and plays, and Adolf as taking all “first romantic leads” in opera. “Madame Keilholz” (Adolf’s wife) also took roles in opera and plays, but Adolf’s name is conspicuously missing from the roster of actors in spoken theater: he appears only in the list for singspiels. There seem to have been no hard feelings between Großmann and Christiane, who in Feb 1787 became godmother to one of Großmann’s children (Wolter 1901, Beilage 6, xci; this is also the topic of Christiane’s letter to Großmann of 10 Mar 1787).
According to Rüppel (2010, 371), the Klos company performed in Cologne through 20 May 1787, then played a season in Aachen, returning to Cologne in the fall. Little seems to be known about their program in either city, but the Theater-Kalender for 1789 prints a long list of the operas and plays that the company had prepared. Operas in the company’s repertory included Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Gotter and Benda’s Romeo und Julie, Una cosa rara (presumably in a German adaptation), Die Rauchfangkehrer, Der Deserteur, König Theodor in Venedig, and Der Barbier von Sevilla, among several others. Thus it may be that the Keilholz sisters first learned (and perhaps first performed) Entführung with Klos, and it seems likely that they would have added several other operas and plays to their repertoires at this time. When Klos’s proposal for a season in Cologne in 1789 was turned down, the company dissolved, and the Keilholz sisters were once again looking for a new position (Rüppel 2010, 371).
The Keilholz sisters in Bonn and Mannheim(⇧)
In 1789, Christiane and Dorothea joined the new company of the Nationaltheater at the electoral court in Bonn, which opened its inaugural season on 3Jan. The Theater-Kalender for 1791 contains a roster and repertory for the Bonn company covering the period from its debut until 23 Feb 1790. The Keilholz sisters appear on the roster along with the soprano Magdalena Willmann (1771–1801) and her older sister Walburga (1769–1835), who appeared only rarely (she was mainly a pianist; see our entry for 13 Jul 1791). Magdalena, who was around seven years younger than Christiane, became her main rival in the opera, and Magdalena also became a member of the electoral Hofkapelle, which the Keilholz family may have found irritating. Also on the roster for the Bonn company was the young violist Ludwig van Beethoven.
The new company gave two short seasons in Bonn over the next 14 months: the first from 3 Jan until 23 May 1789, and the second from 13 Oct 1789 until 23 Feb 1790. The Theater-Kalender gives what appears to be a complete listing of the works performed over those two seasons in chronological order, although without specific dates. However, it is possible to reconstruct the calendar of at least the second short season with reasonable confidence (see our entry for 14 Nov 1789, the premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro in Bonn).
Little is known about the specific casting of works performed during those two seasons, although we know that Magdalena Willmann made her debut in Bonn as Violante in Das Mädchen von Frascati (Paisiello’s La frascatana), probably around 20 Jan 1789 (ThK 1791, 198). At present, we have only one documentary reference to a specific appearance by Christiane Keilholz in Bonn, a review in Gazette de Bonn of a performance of Gotter and Benda’s Romeo und Julie on 7 Nov 1789:
DE BONN, le 9 Novembre.
On donnera aujourd’hui au théatre na-
tional le Bourguemaître drâme en 5 ac-
tes du Comte de Bruhl. La pièce que
l’on a représentée samedi, étoit Romeo &
Julie de Mr. Gotter, avec la musique que
le célèbre Benda a eu l’art d’adapter si
parfaitement au sujet. La pièce a été gé-
néralement bien jouée, mais Mademoisel-
le Keilholz l’ainée a réuni sur elle tout
l’intérêt des spectateurs, dans le rôle de Ju-
lie qu’elle a joué & chanté avec autant de
Noblesse que de sentiment & d’expression.
Jamais sa taille, sa figure & sa voix n’ont
paru avec plus d’avantage. Le public lui a
prodigué des applaudissemens, qui ont été
jusqu’au transport, lorsqu’elle a chanté
l’air si intéressant & si sublime meinen Ro-
meo zu sehen ( je reverrois Romeo.) Quoi-
que son rôle ait été des plus fatiguans,
elle a du néanmoins se conformer avec
complaisance au desir du public en repé-
tant ce beau morceau.
[Gazette de Bonn, no. 280, Tue, 10 Nov 1789, (4)]
FROM BONN, 9 November. [...]
Today’s performance in the Nationaltheater
will be Der Bürgermeister, a play in 5 acts
by the Count von Brühl. The piece that was
given on Saturday was Romeo und Julie by
Mr. Gotter, with music adapted quite perfectly
to the subject by the art of the celebrated
Benda. The piece was generally well
performed, but Mademoiselle Keilholz
the elder drew all of the audience’s attention
to herself in the role of Julie, which she
acted and sang with just as much nobility
as feeling and expression. Never had her
stature, her face, and her voice appeared
to greater advantage. The public applauded
her prodigiously to the point of rapture
when she sang the attractive and sublime
aria Meinen Romeo zu sehen (je reverrois
Romeo). Even though her role would count
among the most tiring, she nevertheless
was able to comply with the public’s desire
that she repeat this beautiful item.
Although we currently have no documentary evidence for other specific roles that Christiane performed in Bonn, several of the works given by the Nationaltheater over these two short seasons were ones she probably already had in her repertoire: Das Blendwerk (La Fausse Magie, in which she had starred in Hamburg as early as 1782), and four operas that she had likely learned and perhaps performed with the Klos company in 1787 and 1788: Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Der Deserteur, Der König Theodor in Venedig (Paisiello’s Il re Teodoro in Venezia), and Der Barbier von Sevilla (a German version of Paisiello’s opera). Other works given in Bonn during Christiane’s tenure were ones that she went on to perform during her series of tryouts in Mannheim, and had probably already performed in Bonn: the duodrama Ariadne auf Naxos, Nina (from Dalayrac’s opera), Mozart’s Don Juan, Kotzebue’s hit play Menschenhaß und Reue, and Dittersdorf’s Doktor und Apotheker. Christiane almost certainly also appeared as Diana in Der Baum der Diana (Martín y Soler’s L’arbore di Diana) in Bonn, the company’s inaugural performance on 3 Jan 1789, which occurred before Magdalena Willmann’s debut with the company. The company also performed Schuster’s Der Alchymist in May 1789; as we have seen, Christiane may have sung a female lead in this opera with the Großmann-Klos company, and she may well have reprised the role in Bonn.
We know that Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz took the roles of Susanna and Cherubino in the Mannheim premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro on 24 Oct 1790, and this suggests that they might already have learned and performed these roles for the Bonn premiere of the opera, which probably took place on Sat, 14 Nov 1789. The Bonn company was relatively small, with only nine women (two of whom performed “nur zuweilen,” only occasionally) available for operas and plays during the first two short seasons (ThK 1791, 197). Dorothea took soubrette roles in other operas (including Entführung and Don Juan), and would seem to have been the company’s best casting choice for Cherubino (admittedly not a soubrette role, but vocally and probably physically suited to Dorothea, who was still quite young). As it happens, we now know that Christiane made a guest appearance as Susanna in Die Hochzeit des Figaro in Frankfurt on 25 Sep 1790, a month before the opera’s premiere in Mannheim, so it seems plausible that she had already learned and perhaps performed it in Bonn. However, it is not certain that she did so: Magdalena Willmann had already sung Susanna in the Frankfurt premiere of Figaro on 11 Oct 1788, and so also already knew it (Mohr 1968, 92–93; she had just turned 17 the month before the Frankfurt premiere). So we cannot at present be certain who sang Susanna in the Bonn premiere, and there may well have been rivalry over the casting.
That Christiane may have had the ego of a prima donna (or that her parents persuaded her to have one) is apparent from her rivalry with Minna Brandes at the end of 1785 and beginning of 1786. There are hints of a similar rivalry in Bonn. The letter to Baron von Schall quoted at the beginning of this commentary refers to Christiane’s “Feindinn” (enemy) in Bonn, and this was almost certainly Magdalena Willmann. A brief reference in a letter to Annalen des Theaters in March 1790 describes them as competitors:
Auszug eines Briefes aus Bonn, vom 3.
März 1790. Die hiesigen Komödien sind nicht
mehr, was sie bei Großmann waren, der bei uns
noch immer in guten Andenken steht. Die Stärke
des hiesigen Theaters besteht in der Oper, worinn
die ältere Keilholz und die jüngere Willmann
wetteifern. Allein die Keilholz gewöhnt sich eine
Unverständlichkeit in Sprache und Gesang an, und
die Willmann ist keine sonderliche Aktrize. [...]
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, v:100]
Extract from a Letter from Bonn, 3 March
1790. The theater here is no longer what it was
under Großmann, who still remains in good repute
with us. The strength of the current company is in
opera, in which the elder Keilholz and the younger
Willmann compete. But Keilholz is making a habit
of unintelligibility in speech and song, and
Willmann is nothing special as an actress.
Another reference to the pair is found in the published travel diary Voyage sur le Rhin, depuis Mayence jusqu’à Dusseldorf by Alexandre-Louis-Bertrand Robineau (known by the anagram “de Beaunoir”):
Une espece de troupe nationale de co-
médiens représentent sur le théâtre de la
cour. Les deux demoiselles Keilholz sont
les meilleures actrices; Mlle Vilmann est
une excellente chanteuse [...]
[Robineau 1791, ii:67]
A sort of national troupe of actors
performs at the court theater. The two
Mademoiselles Keilholz are the better
actresses; Mademoiselle Willmann is
an excellent singer [...]
One suspects, then, that Christiane elected to leave the company in Bonn (or her family elected to leave), because Willmann was seen as Christiane’s rival for lead operatic roles. (The letter to Baron von Schall implies that Christiane’s departure from Bonn was voluntary.) Whether the threat was in fact sufficient reason for them to leave is difficult to judge, but at least one observer later found Willmann to be more than good enough as Christiane’s replacement in the role of Nina:
Auszug eines Briefs aus Bonn. [...]
Der vernünftige Narr, und Nina.
Demois. Willmann die an der Demois. Christel
Keilholz in der Rolle der Nina eine gefährliche
Vorgängerinn gehabt hatte, übertraf doch alle
Erwartung. Selbst ihre Widersacher[,] die ihr
der Partheigeist zugezogen hatte, mußten zuge=
stehen, daß sie dieser Rolle Gnüge gethan habe.
[ThK 1792, 338]
Extract from a Letter from Bonn. [...]
Der vernünftige Narr and Nina.
Mademoiselle Willmann, who in the role of Nina
had a dangerous predecessor in Mademoiselle
Keilholz, nevertheless exceeded all expectations.
Even her opponents, whom partisanship had
disposed against her, had to admit that she had
done well enough in this role.
For whatever reason, the Keilholz sisters did in fact leave the Bonn company, probably after the end of the season on 23 Feb 1790; their departure is recorded at the end of the article on the Bonn company in the Theater-Kalender for 1791: “Abgegangen: Die beiden Demoiselles Keilholz ...” (ThK 1791, 200).
The performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Mannheim on 6 Jun 1790 began a series of guest appearances by Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz that resulted in their engagement by the company at the beginning of July. Those guest appearances are documented in detailed reports by an anonymous correspondent to Bertram’s Annalen des Theaters, supplemented by an additional report from Bertram himself, who happened to be in Mannheim for part of that time.
Christiane made guest appearances in at least seven different roles—five operas and two major plays—over the space of three and half weeks; six were principal female roles (the only exception is Rosalie in Doktor und Apotheker). It is difficult to think of a similarly diverse and demanding series of tryouts by any singer or actor in the eighteenth century.
|Date||Title||Role||Annalen des Theaters|
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Menschenhaß und Reue
Kabale und Liebe
Doktor und Apotheker
Der Baum der Diana
Although the correspondent does not mention it, Nina was given again on 17 Jun (Walter 1899, ii:319); Christiane’s first appearance in that role made a deep emotional impact on the audience (see below), so it seems likely that she would have reprised the role on 17 Jun, perhaps by popular demand.
Dorothea made guest appearances in Mannheim in five roles, four operas and one play, also an impressive list. She played Leonore, the female lead, in Doktor und Apotheker, and the rest were soubrette or secondary roles.
|Date||Title||Role||Annalen des Theaters|
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Doktor und Apotheker
Der Baum der Diana
Romeo und Julie
The reviews of Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Don Juan transcribed at the top of this page are part of a series of reviews by the anonymous correspondent to Annalen des Theaters that cover most of the guest appearances by the Keilholz sisters. These reviews, in conjunction with Bertram’s independent evaluation published in the same issue, give unusual insight into the strengths and weaknesses of both sisters at a time when they were making prominent appearances in operas by Mozart.
On 8 Jun 1790, two days after performing the role of Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Christiane appeared as Eulalia, the starring female role in Kotzebue’s hit play Menschenhaß und Reue. The correspondent to Annalen writes:
Am 8ten im Juni, Menschenhaß und Reue,
ein Schauspiel in 5 Aufzügen, vom Präsidenten Herrn
von Kozebue [sic].
Dem. Keilholz die ältere war Eulalia und wirkte
vereinigt mit dem Ganzen unwiderstehlich auf das
Gefühl, daß es mir schwer werden sollte, ihr, —
eine wenig Monotonie abgerechnet, — auch nur einen
Fehler aufzumutzen. Vielleicht verfehlte sie in der
Szene mit dem Major Horst den Ton der Conversa=
tion, der grade hier so nothwendig ist, um ihre
Schwermuth zu verbergen und der Erzählung ihrer
Beschäftigungen den Anschein von Ruhmredigkeit und
Selbstpreisung zu benehmen.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:72]
On June 8th, Menschenhaß und Reue,
a play in 5 acts, by Herr President von Kotzebue.
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder was Eulalia,
and together with the ensemble, had an irresistible
impact on the feelings, so that it would be difficult
for me to reproach her for even a single fault—apart
from a slight flatness of tone. Perhaps in the scene
with Major Horst she lacks the conversational tone
that is precisely so necessary here in order to hide
her sadness and to lend to her narrative about her
occupations the appearance of boastfulness and
The correspondent is referring to Eulalia’s conversation with Major von der Horst in Act 2, scene 2 of the play, during the course of which she explains how she entertains herself in winter: by sitting in quiet reflection next to the heating oven, by reading, or by playing “eine Sonate von Mozart” on the keyboard or singing an aria by Paisiello (on this passage, see our entry on Menschenhaß und Reue).
Two days later, on 10 Jun, Christiane appeared in the title role of Dalayrac’s Nina. The correspondent and the audience were overwhelmed:
Am 10ten im Juny, der Richter, ein Schau=
spiel in 2 Aufzügen nach Mercier. Hierauf: Nina,
oder Wahnsinn aus Liebe.
Dem. Keilholz die ältere, war Nina, war es so
ganz, daß der getäuschte Zuschauer alles um sich her
vergaß und bloß für das leidende Mädchen fühlte,
dessen aus der Quelle der Natur geschöpften Jammer=
töne Herz und Seele fesselten. Es ist gewiß der
höchste Triumph der Kunst, wenn der Zuschauer bei
der Darstellung sich selbst vergißt, — und das war
bei Dem. Keilholz ganz der Fall. Tiefe Rührung
herrschte durch das ganze Haus, Thränen glänzten in
jedem Auge. Vorzüglich war sie mir als Künstlerinn
schätzbar, in der Szene, wo der Schäfer nach dem
Dorfe zurückkehrt. Die sanfte, hinreißende Melodie
des Liedes, das er bließ, wirkte sichtbar auf jede ihrer
Bewegungen. Horchend faß sie, als wollte sie jeden
Ton verschlingen, ihr ganzer Körper war Musik, un=
willkürlich schien sich ihre Hand nach dem Takte zu
erheben und ihr Auge strahlte von süßer Wonne, die
ihre Seele füllte. Auch die Genesung von ihrem
Wahnsinne war so glücklich motivirt, daß alle Un=
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:73–74]
On June 10th, Der Richter, a play in 2 acts
after Mercier. Followed by: Nina, oder Wahnsinn
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder was Nina; she
was it so completely that the spellbound audience
forgot everything around them and simply felt for
the suffering girl, captivated heart and soul by
her tone of misery as if it sprang from nature. It is
certainly the highest triumph of art when the audience
forget themselves at a performance—and with
Mademoiselle Keilholz this was completely the case.
Deep emotion reigned through the entire house, tears
shone in every eye. I treasured her most especially
in the scene when the shepherd returns to the village.
The soft, ravishing melody of the song that he pipes,
had a visible effect on each of her movements. She
hearkened to it as if she wished to devour each note,
her entire body was music, she seemed involuntarily
to lift her hand to the beat and her eyes beamed
with sweet delight that filled her soul. Also her recovery
from her madness was so happily motivated, that all
Clearly Christiane at her best had a powerful emotional impact on an audience. The description here provides context for the correspondent’s praise of her subtle physical and facial acting as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 6 Jun.
On 13 Jun, Christiane appeared in Mozart’s Don Juan as Donna Anna, and the correspondent did not feel it necessary to repeat the praise he had given for her performance in Entführung, implying that she was equally good. Dorothea Keilholz took the role of Zerlina in that performance; the correspondent found her overly vivacious in a juvenile way, but promising. Don Gusmann (Ottavio) was Franz Anton Epp, who had sung Belmonte in the Mannheim premiere of Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 18 Apr 1784. Samuel Friedrich Leonard was Don Juan, and Georg Gern was Leporello (on Epp, Leonard, and Gern, see our entry for 18 Apr 1784). All three men would appear together with the Keilholz sisters in the premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro on 24 Oct 1790, Epp as the Count, Gern as Figaro, and Leonard as Basilio.
Just two days later, on 15 Jun, Christiane performed the role of Luise in Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe. Here, the correspondent to Annalen found something to criticize:
Am 15ten, Kabale und Liebe, ein bürgerliches
Trauerspiel in 5 Aufzügen, von Schiller.
Das vortrefliche Spiel des Herrn Beck als Fer=
dinand von Walter verdunkelte jede andere Dar=
stellung. Dem. Keilholz die ältere sprach ihre Luise
für das Geräusch des vollen Hauses, besonders im
letzten Akt zu leise, wodurch der größte Theil des Ein=
drucks, den ihr Spiel hervorbringen sollte, verloren
gieng. [Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:74]
On the 15th, Kabale und Liebe, a bourgeois
tragedy in 5 acts by Schiller.
The splendid acting of Herr Beck as Ferdinand
von Walter overshadowed every other performance.
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder spoke her Luise
too softly for the noise of the full house, especially
in the last act, whereby the greater part of the
impression that her acting should have brought forth
The reference is to the actor Heinrich Beck, husband of Josepha Beck, the first soprano of the Mannheim ensemble (on Josepha Beck, see our entry for 10 May 1791).
The correspondent to Annalen was less happy with the performances of both Keilholz sisters in Doktor und Apotheker on 20 Jun, finding them miscast:
Am 20ten, der Apotheker und der Doktor,
eine komische Operette in 4 Aufzügen von Stephanie
Beide Dem. Keilholz waren heute, — meines
Erachtens nicht an ihrem Platze. Die ältere hatte
als Rosalie zwar das Benehmen, aber nicht die Laune
eines muntern, fröhlichen Mädchens; eben so war
auch der feierliche Ernst der jüngern erkünstelt. Ihr
Gesang war kunstvoll und angenehm.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:74]
On the 20th, Der Apotheker und der Doktor,
a comic operetta in 4 acts by Stephanie the younger.
Both Mademoiselles Keilholz were today—in my
opinion, out of place. The elder as Rosalie indeed
had the behavior but not the mood of a spirited and
cheerful girl; and similarly the solemn seriousness of
the younger was artificial. Her singing was artful and
Be that as it may, this series of tryouts was sufficient for the Keilholz sisters to be engaged by the Nationaltheater in Mannheim. According to Walter (the original document does not survive), their contract was dated 1 Jul 1790 (Walter 1899, i:322), although their engagement may not have been been made known immediately to the audience: the correspondent to Annalen des Theaters first mentions their engagement in his report of Christiane’s appearance in the title role of Lessing’s Emilia Galotti two weeks later, on 15 Jul (Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:77).
The correspondent was mildly disappointed with Christiane’s performance of Ariadne on 1 Jul:
Am 1ten im Juny [sic, recte July], der Gläubiger. Hier=
auf: Ariadne auf Naxos.
Dem. Keilholz die ältere, trat als Ariadne
auf, leistete aber nicht ganz das, was man von ih=
ren Talenten erwarten konnte. Ihre Monotonie
war auffallender, auch accentuirte sie einigemal nicht
richtig. Doch blieb ihre Ariadne immer noch ein
schönes Gemälde, durch wenige Flecke entstellt,
die nur dem Beobachter auffielen.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:75]
On June 1st [recte July 1st], Die Gläubiger.
Followed by: Ariadne auf Naxos.
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder appeared as
Ariadne, but did not entirely achieve what her talents
could lead one to expect. Her flatness of tone was
more notable, and a few times she also accentuated
incorrectly. Even so her Ariadne remains a lovely
portrait, marked by a few blemishes that were noticeable
only to the observer.
The correspondent was, however, highly impressed by Christiane’s performance in Romeo und Julie on 4 Jul, and pleased with her performance four days later as Countess Rotland in Graf von Essex, Johann Gottfried Dyk’s adaptation of a play by John Banks:
A m 4ten zum erstenmal: der gutherzige Sohn,
Lustspiel in 1 Aufzuge von Schmieder, und Romeo
und Julie, eine ernsthafte Oper in 3 Aufzügen von
Gotter, die Musik von Benda.
Und nun zu Romeo und Julie.
Wer kennt nicht Benda’s Zaubertöne, die
mit Gotters Zauberworten ein so vortrefliches Gan=
zes ausmachen. Es ist so selten, wenn Text und
Musik frei von ausländischem Opernunsinne, gleich
gut sind, daß es einem wohl thut, auch einmal Nah=
rung für Kopf und Herz da zu finden, wo man sonst
für beides so leer ausgeht. Dem. Keilholz die äl=
tere war Julie, die jüngere Laura. Mit hinreißen=
dem Affekt, und dem lebhaftesten Feuer sang erstere
die Arie: “Meinen Romeo zu sehen.” Das heißeste
Gefühl der Liebe, die ganze Wonne des Wiedersehens
war auf ihrem Gesichte gemahlt, die innigste Theil=
nahme des Publikums, der süßeste Lohn der Künst=
lerinn. Auch Herr Epp sang seinen Romeo mit
Energie und Wahrheit.
Am 8ten, Graf von Essex, ein Trauerspiel
nach dem Englischen des Banks in 5 Aufzügen.
Dem Keilholz die ältere, spielte die Gräfin
Rottland und gefiel am meisten im letzten Akt, in
der Scene mit der Königin.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:75–76]
On the 4th for the first time: Der gutherzige Sohn,
comedy in 1 act by Schmieder, and Romeo und
Julie, a serious opera in 3 acts by Gotter,
music by Benda. [...]
And now to Romeo und Julie.
Who does not know Benda’s magical tones,
which go so splendidly together with Gotter’s magical
words. It is so seldom that text and music, free of
foreign operatic nonsense, are equally good, that it
does one good to find, for once, nourishment for head
and heart, where one otherwise so often goes away
empty of both. Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder was
Julie, the younger Laura. The former sang the aria
“Meinen Romeo zu sehen” with the most enchanting
affect and the liveliest fire. The most heated feeling
of love, the complete delight of the reunion was
painted on her face, the public’s most intimate
participation was the artist’s sweetest reward. Herr
Epp also sang his Romeo with energy and truth.
On the 8th, Graf von Essex, a tragedy after
the English of Banks in 5 acts.
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder played Countess
Rotland and pleased most in the last act, in the
scene with the Queen.
As it happens, the editor of Annalen des Theaters, Christian August Bertram, was visiting Mannheim during the period of the Keilholz sisters’ tryouts; his more negative evaluation provides an interesting contrast with that of the anonymous correspondent, and is worth quoting in full:
des Herausgebers zu dem Aufsatze No. VII.
Nach bereits vollendetem Abdruck des Aufsatzes:
Uebersicht der merkwürdigsten Vorfälle bei der
Manheimer Bühne, bemerkte ich, daß sein Verfasser
einige Gastrollen der Dem. Keilholz, die ihm vielleicht
entfallen seyn mögen, anzuführen vergessen hat.
Meine diesjährige Anwesenheit in Manheim fiel gra=
de in die Zeit, wo beide Demoiselles Keilholz auf der
dortigen Schaubühne sich zeigten. Ich sahe von der
ältern die Rosalie im Doktor und Apotheker; die
Diana im Baum der Diana; und die Ariadne: von
der jüngern die Leonore im Doktor und Apotheker;
den Amor im Baum der Diana; die Wilhelmine
im Räuschchen. Die hier mit andrer Schrift gedruck=
ten Rollen sind nehmlich die, welche der Verfasser der
Uebersicht &c. ausgelassen hat.
Demoiselles Keilholz waren schon vor meiner
Ankunft in einigen Rollen mit einem Beifall aufge=
nommen worden, den nur der Reiz der Neuheit er=
klären konnte. Besonders hatte die ältere als Nina
entzückt; man sprach noch immer mit Bewunderung
von ihrem Spiel in dieser Rolle. Auch hörte ich,
daß sie als Sängerin gefalle, welches mir eben nicht
befremdend seyn durfte, da ich den Ruf kannte, in
welchem sie als solche ehemals bei dem Hamburger
Theater gestanden hatte. Sobald ich sie aber als
Rosalie im Doktor und Apotheker singen hörte, so
konnte ich wenigstens meine Verwunderung darüber
nicht bergen, daß sie neben einer Beck, die durch
einen starken, wohlthönenden und Kunstvollen Ge=
sang hinreißt, Aufsehen zu machen im Stande war,
und zwar bei einem Publikum, das sich durch Kennt=
niß von Musik und Gesang seit langer Zeit ausge=
zeichnet hat. Die Stimme der Mlle. Keilholz ist
jetzt schwach, und muß daher seit ihrer Entfernung
von Hamburg gelitten haben, weshalb auch schon in
einem Briefe aus Bonn im 5ten Hefte der Anna=
len S. 100. gesagt wird: “daß Mlle. Keilholz sich
“eine Unverständlichkeit in Sprache und Gesang an=
Als Schauspielerin betrachtet, so gelingen ihr
sanfte Stellen besser als heftige, wozu ihr die Brust
zu fehlen scheint. Auch ist es mir vorgekommen als
wenn sie etwas lispelt. Die Rolle der Rosalie in ge=
dachter Oper war nicht für sie; ich weiß nicht, wa=
rum sie nicht die Leonore spielt, da dies die erstere
Rolle ist und ihr auch wegen des Gesanges zukommt,
in Ansehung dessen sie für die jüngere Schwester viel
zu schwer war. Als Diana verfehlte Mlle. Keilholz
zuweilen den Karakter und als Ariadne hätte ich ihr
mehr Mannigfaltigkeit in ihrer Deklamation ge=
wünscht, welches wohl ihre Brust verhinderte. Sonst
ist Mlle. Keilholz von einem hübschen, edeln Wuchs,
hat ein schönes, sprechendes Auge und zählt unge=
fähr 28. Jahr.
Mlle. Keilholz die jüngere, die viel wenigere
Sommer zählt, hat noch vielen Unterricht und Aus=
bildung nöthig. Sie gleicht jetzt einer wilden Pflanze,
die beschnitten werden muß, wenn sie nicht sich über=
treiben, und bald verlohren gehn soll. Mlle. Keil=
holz hat Feuer — aber was für Feuer? Rohes
Spiel muß sie für munteres, naives Spiel halten.
Den besten Beweiß hiervon gab sie in ihrer Wilhel=
mine im Räuschchen. Den Amor im Baum der Dia=
na spielte sie zwar gemäßigter, doch war sie noch im=
mer viel zu dreist in Gang, Ton und Gebehrden. Als
Sängerin ist sie jetzt nicht bedeutend, und kann auch
in diesem Stücke mit Madame Müller, einer bei der
dortigen Bühne stehenden angenehmen Sängerin und
beliebten Aktrize nicht verglichen werden.
Mein Urtheil von diesen beiden Schauspielerinnen
gehet zwar von denen des Verfassers der Uebersicht &c.
etwas ab; indeß glaub ich mich ihm näher als es
dem ersten Anscheine nach läßt. Man sieht an seinem
Urtheil über Mlle. Keilholz als Ariadne, daß er gern
dreister würde gesprochen haben, wenn die Sache
nicht noch zu neu gewesen wäre, und der äußerst warme
Beifall, den sein Publikum den beiden Demoiselles
Keilholz gezollt, ihn davon nicht zurückgehalten hätte.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1790, vi:105–7]
by the Editor to the Article No. VII,
After the article Overview of the most notable events
on the Mannheim stage had already been printed,
I noticed that the author had forgotten to include some
of the guest roles of Mademoiselle Keilholz, which may
have escaped his memory. My visit to Mannheim this
year fell exactly at the time when the two Mademoiselles
Keilholz were appearing on the stage there. From the
elder I saw Rosalie in Doktor und Apotheker, Diana in
Der Baum der Diana, and Ariadne; from the younger
Leonore in Doktor und Apotheker, Amor in Der Baum
der Diana, and Wilhelmine in Das Räuschgen. The
roles printed here in a different type [i.e. bold] are the ones
that the author of the Uebersicht &c. left out.
Already before my arrival, the Mademoiselles Keilholz
had been greeted in several roles with an acclaim that
can only be explained by the charm of novelty. The elder
had delighted particularly as Nina; her acting in this
role was still being spoken of with admiration. I also
heard that she pleased as a singer, which would not
have seemed odd to me, because I knew her reputation
as one during the time that she had been in the Hamburg
theater. As soon as I heard her sing as Rosalie in
Doktor und Apotheker, however, I (at least) could not
hide my astonishment that she was in a position to make
a sensation compared with Beck (who thrills with
strong, mellifluous, and artistic singing), and did so with
a public that for a long time has distinguished itself by
its knowledge of music and singing. The voice of
Mademoiselle Keilholz is now weak, and must therefore
have suffered since her departure from Hamburg, as is
also noted in a letter from Bonn in issue 5 of Annalen,
page 100: that Mademoiselle Keilholz “is making a habit
of unintelligibility in speech and song.”
As an actress, she succeeds better at gentle passages
than at heavy ones, for which she seems to lack the
chest. It also appeared to me as if she lisps slightly. The
role of Rosalie in the aforementioned opera was not for
her; I do not know why she does not play Leonore, as
this is the leading role and would suit her vocally, given
that it was far too difficult for the younger sister. As Diana,
Mademoiselle Keilholz sometimes fell short of the character,
and as Ariadne I would have wished for more variety in
her declamation, which her chest probably hindered.
Otherwise, Mademoiselle Keilholz is of handsome and
noble stature, she has a beautiful, expressive eye, and
is around 28 years old.
The younger Mademoiselle Keilholz, who is several
summers younger, still needs much instruction and
education. She is like a wild plant that must be trimmed,
if it is not to overgrow and soon go astray. Mademoiselle
Keilholz has fire—but what kind of fire? She must mistake
rough acting for cheerful and naive acting. The best proof
of this was in her Wilhelmine in Das Räuschgen. She
played Amor in Der Baum der Diana in a more measured
way, yet she was still always much too bold in action,
tone, and gesture. As a singer she is currently unimportant,
and cannot be compared with Madame Müller, one of the
pleasing singers and popular actresses on the stage there.
My judgment of these two actresses does indeed
depart somewhat from that of the author of Uebersicht &c.;
and yet I believe that I am closer to him than at first
appears. One sees in his judgment of Mademoiselle
Keilholz as Ariadne what he would have liked to have
said more boldly, had the thing not still been too new,
and had the extremely warm reception given the Mademoiselles
Keilholz by the public not held him back from doing so.
Bertram is comparing the sisters with Josepha Beck and Marie Müller (née Boudet), the first and second sopranos in the Mannheim company at that time; both had performed the role of Konstanze in Entführung. His comments might be taken to suggest that Christiane’s voice had been damaged by wear and tear over the years, which would not be unusual for someone who had tackled highly ambitious repertoire as a teenager and might not have had sound technical training to learn how to avoid forcing; it is not difficult to think of modern examples of young singers whose voices have not aged well. On the other hand, her voice may simply have been tired. Bertram first heard Christiane in Doktor und Apotheker on 20 Jun. By that point during her guest appearances in Mannheim she had already performed Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 6 Jun, Eulalia in Menschenhaß und Reue on 8 Jun, Nina on 10 Jun, Donna Anna in Don Juan on 13 Jun, Luise in Kabale und Liebe on 15 Jun, and probably Nina again on 17 Jun—that is, five different vocally demanding roles, both singing and speaking, in six appearances over the space of eleven days; she certainly would also have rehearsed each of these works at least once with the full ensemble. So vocal fatigue is likely to have been a factor. The intention in having Dorothea sing the lead role in Doktor und Apotheker would have been to give her a chance to shine during the tryouts, something Bertram seems not to have taken into account. And it is entirely possible that Christiane held back to some extent in that performance in order not to overshadow her sister.
Bertram also says nothing about Christiane’s acting (apart from his reference to her “expressive eye”), whereas this had been a prominent theme in the reviews by the anonymous correspondent—and Bertram does not mention having seen her in any plays. He refers to the comment of an earlier correspondent to Annalen who had written of Christiane in Bonn that she was “making a habit of unintelligibility in speech and song”; Bertram seems to have taken this comment to imply vocal weakness, but it seems more likely to refer to unclear diction. So Bertram’s negative evaluation must be read in context, and it is in any case not representative of the general run of comments about Christiane’s singing and acting at that time.
However, Bertram’s comments do provoke the question: why were the Keilholz sisters seeking positions in Mannheim in the first place? It is not clear that the company needed them. In 1789, the year before the arrival of the Keilholz sisters, the company included nine women and one girl (ThK 1790, 250–51). Four of the women sang in the opera: Josepha Beck (leading roles), Marie Müller (secondary romantic and soubrette roles, as well as occasional leads), Madame Nikola (mothers and other secondary roles), and Mademoiselle Berwald (Bärwald, Beerwald), who substituted for an ill Madame Müller in the second half of 1789, but left the company at the end of Jan 1790 (Würtz 1975, 62); her position was thus not a permanent one, and her departure did not create an opening in the opera. There was, however, an opening in the spoken theater: the actress Christina Engst, who had taken “erste Rollen im höhern Lustspiel” (leading roles in elevated comedies), left the Mannheim company on 23 Sep 1789 for Berlin after a comparatively short stint in Mannheim. This seems to have been the only evident opening in the company for a woman when the Keilholz sisters began their series of tryouts in 1790.
From Walter we know that the father, Philipp Keilholz, had sent letters (now lost) to the Mannheim theater in Apr and May 1790 that had something to do with the possibility of an engagement for his daughters (Walter 1899, i:322); he may have known of Engst’s departure, and felt that Christiane’s skill, experience, versatility, and wide repertoire, together with Dorothea’s repertoire and (still admittedly somewhat untamed) talent, would make the pair an attractive joint hire. The Nationaltheater in Mannheim was an excellent gig by eighteenth-century standards. The company’s roster was relatively stable: Josepha Beck had made her debut (still as Mademoiselle Schäfer) on 20 Jan 1780; Marie Müller had been with the company since 1782; and Madame Nikola had been with it since its foundation in 1778. Several members of the company, including Josepha Beck and Marie Müller, received lifetime appointments on 1 Sep 1790, not long after the Keilholz sisters were hired (all dates here are from Würtz 1975). The pay was good: according to Pichler (1879, 110), the Keilholz sisters received a combined salary of 2000 fl; by way of comparison, Heinrich and Josepha Beck, both among the company’s stars, received a combined salary of 2300 fl.
The sisters’ campaign of tryouts in Mannheim would have required careful advance planning: they would have had to consider not only whether a work would show off their talents to best advantage, but also whether the work was in the company’s repertory. All 12 of the works in which Christiane and Dorothea appeared during their Mannheim tryouts and the first two weeks of their engagement were established repertory items:
Ariadne auf Naxos
9 Dec 1779
25 Jun 1780
Graf von Essex
17 Aug 1781
Romeo und Julie
5 Feb 1784
Kabale und Liebe
15 Apr 1784
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
18 Apr 1784
2 May 1786
17 Jun 1787
Doktor und Apotheker
20 Nov 1787
Menschenhaß und Reue
17 Sep 1789
27 Sep 1789
Der Baum der Diana
17 Jan 1790
Because of the relative stability of the Mannheim ensemble, many of the leading and secondary female roles in these works would already have been in the active repertoires of women still with the company. Thus the sisters had a steep hill to climb to convince the theater’s directors to take them both on, and it is a testament to their planning, skill, talent, and experience that they succeeded.
Mozart is the only composer to appear twice among the musical works in their tryouts, and both Entführung and Don Juan have soprano roles that would have been suitable for both sisters: leading virtuosic roles for Christiane (Konstanze and Donna Anna) and substantial soubrette roles for Dorothea (Blonde and Zerlina). Entführung had already long been a repertory staple in Mannheim, where it had been performed 20 times before the arrival of the Keilholz sisters. Don Juan was a relatively new item in the repertory, having first been performed in Mannheim less than a year before, but it had been given four times in all by the time of the sisters’ tryouts. That they chose these operas suggests not only that they felt them to be effective showcases for their abilities, but also that they knew both operas were popular with the Mannheim audience.
As with all of their engagements up to this point in their careers, the Keilholz sisters’ stay in Mannheim was relatively brief: they left Mannheim on 21 Apr 1792, just 22 ½ months after their debut (Pichler 1879, 124). We have already seen that both sisters appeared in the Mannheim premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro on 24 Oct 1790, Christiane as Susanna and Dorothea as Cherubino; Mozart had participated in the final two rehearsals of Figaro in Mannheim and may have directed the music at the premiere (see our entries for 22 Oct 1790 and 24 Oct 1790). All three Mozart operas in the Mannheim repertory were performed at least twice more during the remainder of the sisters’ tenure in Mannheim: Figaro on 7 Nov 1790 and 30 Oct 1791; Don Juan on 26 Jun 1791 and 29 Jan 1792; and Entführung on 17 Jul, 23 Oct, and 27 Dec 1791, and again on 19 Apr 1792, just two days before the sisters departed. The casting of these performances remains to be determined, but it seems likely that the Keilholz sisters appeared in at least some of them. However, we know that the performance of Entführung on 19 Apr 1792 featured Josepha Beck (not Christiane) as Konstanze, with brother Adolf Keilholz performing Belmonte as a guest role (see below).
On 18 Jan 1791 both Keilholz sisters appeared in the Mannheim premiere of Iphigenia in Tauris (a German version of Gluck’s opera), Christiane in the title role, and Dorothea as Diana (Pichler 1879, 110; Walter 1899, ii:322). Christiane also continued to appear in leading roles in spoken theater. On 21 Oct 1790, just three days before the premiere of Figaro, she played Ophelia in Hamlet (Walter 1899, ii:320); on 17 May 1791 she was Die Fürstin (the Princess) in the Mannheim premiere of Iffland’s Elise von Valberg (Pichler 1879, 112; Walter 1899, ii:323); and on 22 Dec 1791 she appeared in the title role of Spieß’s Maria Stuart. Her portrayal in the latter made a profound impression, as reported by an anonymous correspondent to Annalen des Theaters:
Den 22ten Christmonat ward hier zum ersten=
mal das bekannte Trauerspiel von Spieß, Maria
Stuart gegeben. [...]
Mlle. Keilholz d. ä. trat als Maria auf, und
machte durch ihr Spiel ausserordentliche Wirkung.
Sie äusserte ihre Liebe zu Norfolk mit einer Delika=
tesse, daß weder das Weib, noch die Königin et=
was dabei verlor. Bei Elisabeth sprach sie mit Wür=
de, und dem Bewußtseyn der Unschuld. Erschütternd
war ihr Spiel im lezten Akte, wo sie schon zum Tode
verurtheilt ist; der Abschied von ihren Bedienten, ihr
Testament, ihre Reden zu Lord Herries, der sie bis
an den Rand des Grabes begleitet — erhöhten die
allgemeine Rührung und vollendeten das Gemälde. [...]
[Annalen des Theaters, 1792, ix:95–96]
On the 22nd of December, the well-known tragedy
Maria Stuart by Spieß was given here for the first
Mademoiselle Keilholz the elder appeared as
Maria and made an extraordinary impact with her
acting. She expressed her love for Norfolk with
a delicacy that lost nothing of either the woman or
the Queen. She spoke to Elizabeth with dignity and with
awareness of her innocence. Her performance in
the last act, when she is already condemned to death,
was harrowing; her farewell to her servants, her
testament, her speech to Lord Herries, who accompanies
her to the edge of the grave—all evoked universal
emotion and completed the picture. [...]
Iffland himself praised Christiane highly in his autobiography:
In diesem Jahre  kam für einige Gastrollen
die Familie Keilholz nach Manheim. Die
ältere Demoisell Keilholz riß durch den Aus=
druck, den sie in den Gesang legte, durch ihre
schöne Gestalt, jedermann so hin, daß man
das geringere Talent ihrer Schwester nicht nur
gern übersah, sondern freundlich aufnahm.
Beide wurden engagiert. Sehr bald zeigte die
ältere Schwester in der Rolle der Maria
Stuart, wie in der Iphigenia von Gluck, in
Nina, das seltenste Talent für das hohe Trauer=
spiel. Der Wetteifer, und eben dadurch das
Leben, welches diese Künstlerin in das Ganze
brachte, schuf die glänzendste Periode der Man=
heimer Bühne. [Iffland 1798, 182]
In this year , the Keilholz family came
to Mannheim for several guest roles. The elder
Mademoiselle Keilholz so enraptured everyone
through the expressiveness that she gave her
singing and her beautiful form, that the lesser
talent of her sister was not only happily overlooked,
but even genially accepted. Quite soon the elder
sister demonstrated, in the role of Maria Stuart,
as well as in Gluck’s Iphigenia and in Nina, the
most uncommon talent for high tragedy. The
rivalry and also thereby the life that this artist
brought to the whole created the most brilliant
period of the Mannheim stage.
High praise indeed from one of the leading actors, playwrights, and directors of the German stage at that time.
The eighth issue of Annalen des Theaters (1791) contains an effusive poem in blank verse in praise of Christiane Keilholz in Mannheim by Anton von Klein (1746–1810). It is by no means a classic (in spite of its thicket of Classical references); a contemporaneous reviewer of this volume of Annalen calls it “sehr schlecht” (very bad; Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek, vol. 107, i:157). But it is worth quoting this poetic mash note in full because it again highlights the vivid physicality of Christiane’s acting and its impact on at least one member of her audience; it also mentions several of her roles in Mannheim (Julie, Iphigenia, Nina, Lotte) and gives hints of her appearance:
Demoiselle Keilholz in Manheim.
Von jeher schwärmt’ ich gern nach Dichterart
im Reich der schöpferischen Phantasie:
Bald hob die Mächtige mich zum Olymp,
und ließ am Nektartisch mich Götterfreuden blicken,
bald sah ich Cypria, umschwebt von Amoretten,
gewiegt vom Täubchenpaar auf Frühlingswölkchen;
oft scherzt’ ich, Jugendgott! im Taumel deiner Feste.
So kosen hundertweiß mich lieblichere Stunden,
als die auf der gewohnten Lebensbahn uns schleppen;
doch nie ergriff mich süßere Begeisterung,
als da mir Thalia und Melpomen’ erschienen.
Da stand die Muse des Kothurns mit hoher Würde,
das Aug’ voll Adel, auf der Stirn’ erhabner Sinn;
Gefühle großer Thaten schwellten ihr die Brust,
in einfaltvoller Pracht floß faltenreich das Kleid
am Götterleib, und ihrem Schritte folgten
Empfindung und Bewunderung und tiefes Staunen:
Ach! Wehmuth sprach ihr plötzlich aus dem Blick,
begoß mit einem Thränenstrom die holde Wange;
Schmerz hob und preßte ihren zarten Busen,
laut scholl ihr Jammer, tief durchbohrte mir die Seele
die klagende Gebärd und der erstickte Seufzer;
ein Wonneschauer, wie er vor den Wunderwerken
Athens mich oft durchfährt, durchschwärmte meine Glieder
bey jedem Wort und Blick und jeder Regung;
Mein Herz zerriß, zerfloß in süße Thränen:
denn ihre Töne gleiteten vom Mund der Anmuth,
Huldinnen lenkten ihren Arm und Tritt,
und scherzten nächst dem Schmerz auf ihrer Thränenwange.
Wie neidlos deckt den weißen Hals ihr fliegend Haar!
wie träufelten in schöner Unordnung
die schwarzen Löckchen auf die Alabasterbrust,
wie schmiegte sich, wenn hin und her der Schmerz sie trieb,
um ihre milden Glieder das Gewand,
und zeichnete dem trunkner Blick den edeln Körperbau!
Der Schmerz, der mich durchdrang war grenzenlose Wonne.
Bald kamst auch du vor meine Blicke Thalia!
mit süßer Red und schäkernder Gebärde;
um Dich, wie um der Schönheit Göttin, tanzten
die Grazien; dir lieh Pasithea
den Honigmund, die Rosenhand Aglaia —
Die Genien des niedlichen Geschmackes
bezähmten sanft an dem geschmeid’gen Leibe
mit Cythereens Gürtel dein Gewand,
getaucht ins Morgenroth; und alle holden Reize
umschwärmten deinen Arm und Mund
und spielten in den Locken, flogen mit den Blicken
und wandelten die Scene deines Spiels
in einen Zauberkreis der seligen Entzückung.
So sah ich Thalia in mancher Wonnestunde,
so sah ich Melpomenen, sah so wahr, so wirklich sie,
daß ich mich nicht im Reich der Einbildung,
daß ich ganz täuschungsfrey mich wähnte;
da rief der Genius der Kunst mir zu: Fürwahr,
es ist nicht Täuschung; Wahrheit ists, was dich beglückt!
Du siehst die zauberischen Scenen nicht allein,
mit Dir, sieh um Dich her, ist eine Welt entzückt:
Es ist nicht Thalia, nicht Melpomene,
es ist Romeo’s Julie, und Roberts Lotte,
und Iphigenia und Nina Keilholz.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1792, viii:8–10]
The passages in blue above translate roughly as:
Ah! Melancholy speaks suddenly from her glance,
flooding her noble cheeks with a river of tears;
Pain heaves and presses her tender bosom,
loud cries her misery, her plaintive gestures and
stifled sighs bore deeply into my soul;
A shiver of bliss, as often passes through me
before the wondrous works of Athens, surges
through my limbs at every word and glance and movement;
My heart is torn and dissolves in sweet tears [...]
How generously her flowing hair covers her white throat!
How her black locks trickle in beautiful disorder
upon her alabaster breast [...]
(The rest of the translation is left as an exercise for the reader.) The first rather orgasmic extract suggests that she may have been able to cry on command (still a useful skill for an actor today), and the second suggests that she allowed her long (black) hair to fall naturally, without elaborate hairdos or wigs (this style is also suggested in the engraving above), perhaps still a relatively novelty for the Mannheim audience at that time. The final three lines of the poem mention four of Christiane’s roles in Mannheim, three of which we have already seen in reviews: Julie in Romeo und Julie, Iphigenia in Gluck’s opera, and Nina. (On the still unidentified reference to “Roberts Lotte,” see the Notes below.)
The poem as a whole, while laughably overwritten, suggests the ways in which Christiane’s physicality as an actress communicated itself quite directly to the bodies and emotions of the audience. That the poem is overwritten does not necessarily imply that she overacted (she is not responsible for the excesses of her fans), but it is clear that her audience found her acting viscerally and realistically communicative in roles featuring intense female emotion, such as Nina, Julie, Iphigenia—and probably also Konstanze and Donna Anna.
The file on the Keilholz sisters in the archive of the Mannheim theater is now lost, but Walter’s summary of its contents gives hints of turmoil and dissatisfaction fairly soon after their engagement (Walter 1899, i:322–23). The sisters seem to have petitioned for a new contract as early as Jan 1791, just half a year after their first one. Walter quotes from one of the assessments of that petition:
Kommissär Försch äußert sich in seinem Gutachten: “Es ist eine stadtkundige Sache, daß der bloße auf den Zetteln erscheinende Name deren Demoiselles Keilholz dem Schauspiel, worin solche aufzutreten haben, einen ungewöhnlichen Zulauf verschaffet.” [Walter 1899, i:322]
Commissioner Försch remarks in his assessment: “It is well-known in the town that the mere appearance of the name of the Mademoiselles Keilholz on the posters brings an uncommon throng to the piece in which they are to appear.”
Given their popularity, the sisters may have assumed that they already had a strong negotiating position. They (or perhaps their family) may also have had debts: Walter lists a “Schuldverschreibung” for 500 fl in the Keilholz file under the date 7 Aug 1790, and a “Garantie eines Anlehens” of 1000 fl on 10 Apr 1791. Items 13 to 15 in the file, dated 21 Jul 1791, concerned the punishment (Strafverfügung) of Dorothea for some infraction. Items 16 to 18, under the same date, had to do with an official complaint from Christiane and the responses from directors Dalberg and Rennschüb; perhaps this complaint was related to items 19 to 22, “Beschwerde der Christine Keilholz über eine Rollenverteilung” (Complaint from Christine Keilholz over the assignment of a role). It may not be a coincidence that 21 Jul 1791 was the premiere of that year’s winner of the Mannheim prize, the tragedy Menzikoff und Natalie by Franz Kratter; according to Walter, that premiere was the Mannheim debut of a Madame Freno from Vienna (Walter 1899, ii:324). Perhaps one or both sisters had not been given a desired role in that work. In any case, whatever their complaint may have been, they were eventually given a new contract (unfortunately also lost) dated 1 Oct 1791, and that same day Christiane received a bonus of 200 fl.
When Christiane and Dorothea were young, the Keilholz family had taken engagements as a collective; in at least one case—Hamburg in 1782—the family’s engagement included the entire family: both parents and all three siblings. The mother ceases to appear on the rosters of theater companies around this time, and one might think that she died; but she is said have lived until 1813 (see Schweitzer 1975, 29). Father Philipp likewise no longer appears on any rosters after the engagement in 1782, but his lost letters to the Mannheim theater from Apr and May 1790 suggest that he continued to play a role in the management of his daughters’ careers (Walter 1899, i:322). Brother Adolf, after absconding from Hamburg in Feb 1786, maintained a separate career on the stage along with his “wife,” who from that point appears in theatrical rosters as “Madame Keilholz” (there remains some doubt whether they were legally married). As we have seen, the couple were initially with the Tilly company. In 1787 and 1788 all three siblings were together again in the Klos company, but in 1789, when the Keilholz sisters were in Bonn, Adolf and his wife appear on the roster of the court theater of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: Madame Keilholz as “erste Liebhaberinnen in Lust= und Trauerspielen, erste und zweyte Rollen in der Oper” and Adolf as “erste Liebhaber in der Opera, einige Rollen im Schauspiel” (ThK 1790, 132); the roster also lists both among the company’s dancers. In 1790 and 1791 they were with Großmann (ThK 1791, 210; ThK 1792, 280). Thus the Keilholz siblings were separated much of the time between 1786 and 1792.
On 19 Apr 1792, Adolf Keilholz made a guest appearance in Mannheim in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, as Belmonte opposite Josepha Beck’s Konstanze. The guest appearance was noted in Annalen des Theaters:
Den 19ten April  trat Hr. Keilholz, der bisher
bey der Großmannischen Gesellschaft gewesen war,
als Belmonte in der Entführung aus dem Serail auf.
Er ist eben keiner der ersten Sänger Deutschlands;
indessen gefiel er doch manchem durch sein rasches
Spiel und durch allenthalben im Gesange angebrachte
Manieren. Ein Theil des Publikums erzeigte ihm
die Ehre, ihn am Ende des Stückes herauszurufen:
der bessere Theil der Zuschauer sah wohl ein, daß
Hr. K. so ausgezeichneten Beyfall eben nicht ver=
diente, und rief Mad. Beck, welche jenen Abend
die Rolle des Konstanza meisterhaft gesungen hatte.
Diese Parthie siegte auch über jene: Mad. Beck
mußte zuerst erscheinen, und dann ließ man ruhig ge=
schehen, daß auch Hr. Keilholz vorgerufen ward.
Unsere Schaubühne erlitt um diese Zeit einen
empfindlichen Verlust, der bis jetzt noch nicht ersetzt
ist. Die beyden Demoiselles Keilholz nahmen auf
sechs Wochen Urlaub, um eine theatralische Reise zu
machen. Sie gingen nach Amsterdam, und bald
darauf war es entschieden, daß sie nicht wieder kom=
men würden, obgleich ihr Kontrakt sie verband, noch
länger bey der hiesigen Bühne zu bleiben. Wir ver=
loren an der älteren Dslle. Keilholz eine brave Sän=
gerin, und eine vortreffliche Tragische Schauspielerin,
deren Verlust vielleicht nie wird ersetzt werden; die
jüngere vermissen wir nicht. Durch diese plötzliche
Veränderung waren viele bessere Stücke unbesetzt, dazu
kamen noch unverhoffte Unpäßlichkeiten anderer Mit=
glieder, und man mußte sich mit minder guten Stücken,
und mit Wiederholungen behelfen, und die sich daher
allmählich im Publikum verbreitende Kälte ward nur
selten durch interessante Vorstellungen verscheucht.
[Annalen des Theaters, 1793, xii:35–36]
On 19 April , Herr Keilholz, who previously
had been with the Großmann company, appeared as
Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. He is by
no means one of Germany’s leading singers; but he
pleased many with his impetuous acting and the embel-
lishments he added everywhere in his singing. Part of
the public did him the honor of a curtain call: the better
part of the audience realized full well that Herr K. did
not deserve such special acclaim, and called for Madame
Beck, who had sung the role of Konstanze in a masterly
way. This party was victorious over the other: Madame
Beck had to appear first, and then Herr Keilholz was
quietly allowed to be called forth.
At this time our stage suffered a painful loss, which
has not yet been filled. Both Mademoiselles
Keilholz took a six-week leave of absence to go on
a theatrical tour. They went to Amsterdam, and there it
was soon decided that they would not return, even
though their contract bound then to stay longer on the
stage here. In the elder Mademoiselle Keilholz we have
lost a good singer and an outstanding tragic actress,
whose loss can perhaps never be filled; the younger
one we do not miss. Through this sudden change, many
of the better pieces remained uncast, and on top of that,
other members suffered unexpected ailments, and so
one had to make do with less good pieces and repeats,
and the coldness that therefore gradually spread among
the public was only occasionally dissipated by interesting
It cannot be a coincidence that Adolf made a guest appearance in Mannheim just two days before the sisters left on their “tour.” It may be that the family had already decided to reunite, hoping to find a company that would employ all three siblings. Whether they had already decided on Amsterdam as their destination remains an open question.
A new figure enters the Keilholz family saga at this point: tenor, actor, composer, and (later) kapellmeister Carl Theodor Haßloch (1769–1829), who was soon to become Christiane’s husband. Haßloch had made his debut in Mannheim on 23 Aug 1789 (Würtz 1975, 72). According to Walter, the works performed that day were the comedy Der Mann, der seine Frau nicht kennt, and the singspiel Felix, oder Der Findling (Walter 1899, ii:315). As Haßloch was a tenor (or high baritone), he probably made his debut in the singspiel rather than the play. He seems to have been given a contract with the Mannheim company, but his tenure was not long: Walter refers to a (lost) memo from Dalberg dated 27 Mar 1791 that mentions Haßloch’s departure and the consequent need to find another second tenor (Walter 1899, i:77; the first tenor was Franz Anton Epp). Haßloch is listed on the Mannheim roster in the Theater-Kalender for 1790 (reflecting the state of affairs in 1789), where he is described as playing “Liebhaber im Singspiel” (ThK 1790, 251). He is still on the company’s roster the following year (1790; ThK 1791, 220), but not the year after that (1791), when he is said to have gone to Hamburg (ThK 1792, 292); however, his name does not appear on the Hamburg roster for that year or the next (ThK 1792, 282–84; ThK 1793, 147–49). Little is known about the roles that Haßloch played while in Mannheim, but he was Don Gusmann (Don Curzio) in the premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro (see our entry for 24 Oct 1790).
The three Keilholz siblings and Haßloch may have gone to Amsterdam together: in a Dutch publication from 1793, all are listed on the roster of the company of Jakob Johann Albert Dietrichs, head of the German theater in Amsterdam at that time. Adolf Keilholz is first tenor and Haßloch second tenor; Christiane Keilholz is described as taking lead female roles in opera, and heroines and romantic leads in plays; and sister Dorothea is said to take secondary female roles in opera, and soubrette and naive roles in plays. Adolf’s wife does not appear on the roster, and the couple may have separated by this point; in 1793 his wife and two daughters (that is, two new Demoiselles Keilholz) were with the traveling theater company of Johann Ferdinand Kübler (ThK 1794, 305; on Kübler, see Pies 1973, 208). The roster of Dietrichs’ company contains another intriguing detail: Madame Freno, undoubtedly the same actress who made her debut in Mannheim on 21 Jul 1791, appears on the company’s roster in Amsterdam, where she is said to play romantic leads in tragedy and comedy. This hints at a possible relationship with the Keilholz family, but the nature of the relationship, if it existed, is unknown. One also wonders whether the Keilholz family may have had some link with Amsterdam because of Adolf’s earlier (if unconsummated) appointment as a lieutenant in a Dutch regiment.
Little is known at present about the roles taken by the Keilholz siblings in Amsterdam, but we find hints in reviews in Die Deutsche Thalia in Amsterdam of performances in the German theater at the end of 1793, after they had left the company but were still fresh in memory. Because the personnel of the German company in Amsterdam had recently changed substantially, the reviewer occasionally makes comparisons between new cast members and those who had previously appeared in the same roles. These comparisons show that Dorothea Keilholz had previously sung Blonde (Die Deutsche Thalia, no. 3, 22 Jan 1794, 27, in a review of Entführung on 16 Nov 1793); Christiane had previously sung Hedwig in Dittersdorf’s Das rote Käppchen (op. cit., 40, in a review of a performance on 23 Dec 1793); and Adolf had previously sung Felsenberg in the same performance (Die Deutsche Thalia, no. 4, 29 Jan 1794, 42). In spite of their success in Amsterdam, however, the Keilholz family had already moved on. Once again their tenure had been quite short, in this case no more than a year and a half.
If we make the plausible assumption that Christiane sang Konstanze in earlier performances of Entführung by the Dietrichs company in Amsterdam, and that Adolf sang Belmonte, the review of the performance on 16 Nov 1793 takes on added interest. The review is also unusually detailed, commenting not only on the quality of the singing and acting, but also on the costumes and the chorus. (The idiosyncratic spellings in the review are given exactly as they appear in the original.)
Sonnabend’s den 16 November 1793.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Singspiel in 2. Aufzügen. Musik von Mozart.
Jeder war begierig, diese Oper von der neuen Gesell-
schafft zu sehen, denn sie sollte den Unterschied zwischen
der vorigen- und jezigen Gesellschafft bestimmen.
Jeder wird wissen, und bekennen, dass diese beliebte
Oper von der ehemaligen Gesellschafft höchst vortreflich
und befriedigend aufgeführt wurde, und dass es schwer
seye, jene zu erreichen, — höchst schwer, jene zu über-
Ich wil nicht vorgreifen, aber mich dünkt, dass das
Ziel, wo nicht ganz erreicht, doch nicht weit verfehlt wur-
de. Soviel ist aber auch wahr, dass das erste schöne türkische
Chor: Singt dem grossen Bassa Lieder, nicht ganz gefiel,
ja beinahe zurrültet [sic] wurde, und das gab schon keine gute
Dem. Schwachhofer, und Herr Eunike hatten
die Hauptrollen der Costanza, und der Bellmonte
beide erreichten ihre Vorgänger im Gesang beinahe, in
der Action nur halb. — Im Duette: Welch Geschik &c.,
fehlten beide, jedoch halfen sie so geschikt, dass
es beinahe nicht bemerkt wurde, so dass die Art, wie
sie sich wieder zurecht hielfen, alle Gewandtheit ihrer
Kunst verrieth. Der Putz der Dem. Schwachhofer
war sicherlich nicht schlecht, aber die Art, wie sie sich
kleidete, zeigte, dass sie mit der türkischen Toilette
nicht bekannt sey, wovon das Aufbinden des türkischen
Hemds ein deutlicher Beweiss war. Herrn Eunike’s
spannische Kleidung war auch nicht schlecht, aber zu
einfach, und der Mantel zu alt. Von seinem Vorgän-
ger, wie auch von der Costanza waren wir ehedem
viel Pracht gewohnt.
Mad. Eunike hat die Rolle des Blondchen mit
vieler Naïvität gespielt, und — hätte sie etwas mehr
Feuer angewendet — sie wäre vortreflich gewesen. Ob-
schon ihre Stimme schön, und angenehm ist, so ist sie
doch für ein Orchester mit türkischer Musik zu klein.
Ihre Kleidung ware ganz wiedrig, denn sie sahe
ganz nicht, der geliebten Sclavin einer vornehmen
türkischen Favorite ähnlich! woher das doch kom-
men mag? denn von Mad. Eunike erwartet man doch
hier Geschmack! — Ich unterfange mich keineswegs mich
an den Putztisch des Frauenzimmers zu wagen, und
weis daher auch nicht zu sagen, wo es fehlte, aber
genug! es gefiel weder andern, noch mir. Soviel muss
ich aber doch erwähnen, dass weise türkische Frauen-
zimmer Kleidung, wenn sie nicht ausser-ordentlich präch-
tig ist, auf der Bühne nie gefällt. Die jüngste Demois.
Keilholz wuste diesem Fehler in dieser Rolle auszu-
Osmin wurde vom Herrn Hunnius d. ä. vorgestellt.
Da er diese Rolle schon öfters auf der vorigen Bühne mit
ungetheiltem Beyfall spielte, so wird es Niemand befremb-
den, dass er denselben hier wieder doppelt erhielt. Nur
dunkt uns dass Osmin mehr alt und mürrisch sein muste.
Herr Hunnius d. j. hatte die Rolle des Pedrillo.
Wer in früheren Zeiten diese Rolle von Herrn Flam-
mand sah, der ist schwer zu befriedigen. Herr
Steinmann erreichte ihn nicht, und Herr Hunnius
noch weniger. Er wurde von diesem viel zu rasch, und
mit zu wenig Aufmerksamkeit vorgestellt: nicht einmal
wuste er seinen Musik-Text richtig, und das ist wahrhaf-
tig für eine Hauptrolle in der Oper ein grosser Mangel.
Die Rolle des Bassa! — Nun! aus der läst sich nicht
viel machen, sonst würde Herr Pappel sich auch hier
ine [sic] als Meister gezeigt haben.
Das Statisten Chor war beim beiderseitigen Ge-
schlecht höchst bunt, und zusammen gestoppelt, welches
mit dem Hauptpersonale stark contrastirte. Wir kön-
nen sicherlich nicht verlangen, dass bei einer neuen
Gesellschaft alles in dem ersten Augenblik volkom-
men sein soll, aber es verdient auf allen Fall Errinnerung,
und Anmahnung, diese mit der Zeit zu verbessern. Vor-
züglich muss hier errinnert werden, dass man in dieser
Oper die Chöre besser besezt und studiert zu hören
[Die Deutsche Thalia, no. 3, 22 Jan 1794, 25–27]
Saturday, 16 November 1793.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Singspiel in 2 Acts. Music by Mozart.
Everyone was eager to see this opera with the new
company, for it would determine the difference between
the previous company and the current one.
Everyone will know and admit that this popular
opera was performed most splendidly and satisfyingly
by the former company, and that it would be difficult
to match it — and extremely difficult to surpass it.
I will not anticipate, but it seems to me that the goal,
if not entirely reached, was not missed by much. But it is
also true that the beautiful first Turkish chorus, Singt
dem grossen Bassa Lieder, did not entirely please,
indeed was nearly ruined, and this already did not
make for high expectations.
In the main roles of Konstanze and Belmonte,
Mademoiselle Schwachhofer and Herr Eunike both nearly
reached their predecessors in singing, but only halfway
in acting. — In the duet, Welch ein Geschick! &c., both
went astray, but helped each other so skillfully, that it
went almost unnoticed, so that the manner in which they
helped each other recover demonstrated all of their art.
The costume of Mademoiselle Schwachhofer was certainly
not bad, but the way in which she was attired showed that
she is not acquainted with Turkish dress, for which the
unwinding of the Turkish chemise was clear proof. Herr
Eunike’s Spanish costume was also not bad, but too simple,
and the mantle too old. We were formerly accustomed to
much magnificence from his predecessor, and also from
Madame Eunike played the role of Blonde with
much naïveté, and — If she had somewhat more
fire — she would have been excellent. Although her
voice is beautiful and pleasing, it is yet too small for an
orchestra with Turkish music. Her clothing was entirely
untoward, for she did not look at all like the beloved slave
of a courtly Turkish favorite! And where can that have
come from? For we expect more taste from Madame
Eunike here! — I do not at all presume to put myself
at a woman’s dressing table, and I do not know
how to say what was lacking, but enough! It pleased
neither others nor me. Yet I must at least mention that
white clothing for Turkish women, if it is not extraordinarily
magnificent, does not please on stage. The younger
Mademoiselle Keilholz knew how to avoid this error
in this role.
Osmin was portrayed by Herr Hunnius the elder.
As he had already played this role often with the previous
company to undivided acclaim, no one will be
surprised that he received it twice over here. Only it
seems to us that Osmin must be older and grumpier.
Herr Hunnius the younger took the role of Pedrillo.
Whoever has seen Herr Flammand in this role is
difficult to please. Herr Steinmann did not match him,
and Herr Hunnius even less so. He was presented in this
role much too soon and with little attention: he did not
even know his music properly, and that is truly a great
lack for a leading role in an opera.
The role of Bassa! — Now! not much can be made
out of this, otherwise Herr Pappel would have shown
himself as a master.
The chorus of supernumeraries of both sexes was
quite colorful and cobbled together, which contrasted
strongly with the main cast. We certainly cannot demand
that everything with a new company should be perfect from
the first moment, but in any case it deserves to be
remembered and exhorted that this be improved with time.
It must especially be remembered that in this opera
we wish to hear choruses that are better staffed and
The previous cast in Amsterdam—probably Christiane Keilholz as Konstanze and Adolf as Belmonte, and certainly Dorothea as Blonde—are being favorably compared here to the married couple Friedrich and Henriette Eunike, and to Therese Schwachhofer, all of whom went on to have long and distinguished careers on the operatic stage. Before coming to Amsterdam, the Eunikes had been in the company of the Nationaltheater in Mainz, which had disbanded not long after the city was occupied by the French in 1792 (on the Mainz company, the Eunikes, and Schwachhofer, see our entry for 1 May 1791). The Eunikes had joined the Mainz company in 1789, and Friedrich (1764–1844) had sung the role of Ferdinand (Ferrando) in the Frankfurt premiere of Liebe und Versuchung (Così fan tutte) on 1 May 1791. During their tenure with that company, it performed in both Mainz and Frankfurt, and it had four other operas by Mozart in its active repertory: Das verstellte Gärtnermädchen (La finta giardiniera), Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Figaro, and Don Juan. It performed the first three of these in Frankfurt in the weeks leading up to and during the coronation festivities for Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor. The casting in the Mozart performances by the Mainz company remains to be investigated, but it may be that Eunike had already sung the role of Belmonte and perhaps other Mozart roles with that company. The eminent actor and playwright Friedrich Ludwig Schroeder praised Eunike in Liebe und Versuchung and other roles during Schroeder’s stay in Frankfurt from 24 Apr to 2 May 1791 (see our entry for 1 May 1791).
Therese Schwachhofer had been Eunike’s student in Mainz (she seems to have sung in the chorus of Liebe und Versuchung). She and the Eunikes all later became members of the Nationaltheater in Berlin in 1796, and had long and successful careers on the operatic stage. Eunike made his debut in Berlin in the role of Belmonte on 14 Jun 1796; he remained in Berlin for the rest of his career, retiring in 1823. After separating from Henriette in 1797, Eunike married Schwachhofer, whose own career in Berlin lasted until her retirement in 1830. Both became renowned there for their many Mozart roles. Henriette, who married four times in all, eventually performing under the name Hendel-Schütz, also had a long and successful career on the stage.
The Eunikes and Schwachhofer were still at relatively early stages of their careers at the time of the performance of Entführung in Amsterdam on 16 Nov 1793, but they were clearly already quite accomplished. Thus the review gives insight into the relative capabilities and reception of the Keilholz siblings, whom the reviewer of the Amsterdam production seems generally to have preferred on all counts.
The reviewer of the Amsterdam performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 16 Nov 1793 also refers to the elder and younger Hunnius brothers, in the roles of Osmin and Pedrillo. The elder was Friedrich Johann Wilhelm Hunnius (1762–1835), who likewise had a long career in the theater; his younger brother Anton Christian (b. 1767), on the other hand, did not, but is said to have ended up as a doctor in Philadelphia. All five of the singers in the performance on 16 Nov 1793 appeared in the Amsterdam premiere of Mozart’s Don Juan in 1794: the younger Hunnius as Don Juan, the elder as Leporello, Eunike as Don Ottavio, his wife Henriette as Donna Elvira, and Therese Schwachhofer as Donna Anna. (See the facsimile of the cast list from the libretto for the Amsterdam production in our entry for 1 May 1791.)
It is also notable that the reviewer calls Entführung “diese beliebte Oper” (this popular opera); the review makes clear that the opera had already been performed in Amsterdam many times, although we do not at present know how many. But Dietrichs’ company had been performing the opera in Amsterdam since at least May 1791, around a year before the Keilholz siblings joined the company (see Kabinet van Mode en Smaak, no. 1, 1791, 426). The review of the Amsterdam Entführung also suggests that individual performers were responsible for selecting and providing their own costumes, and that the costumes did not belong to the company.
What appears to have been the largest group of items in the lost Keilholz file in Mannheim (items 26 to 55 as enumerated by Walter) had to do with Christiane’s breach of contract: “Kontraktbruch der Keilholz auf einer Gastspielreise,” with dates from Jun to Aug 1792 (Walter 1899, i:323). Eventually, she had to pay the Mannheim theater a penalty in the amount of 100 ducats, as reported in the Taschenbuch fürs Theater in 1795:
[...] Die ältere Dlle Keilholz kam nach einiger
Zeit hieher, um ihre Geschäfte zu berichtigen, und
mußte 100 Dukaten wegen des gebrochenen Vertra=
ges Strafe bezahlen. Sie ging wieder nach Am=
sterdam zurück, und nahm Hrn. Haßloch mit,
der vor einiger Zeit für die Oper war engagirt wor=
den. Die Bühne fühlte lange den Verlust der ältern
[Taschenbuch fürs Theater (Mannheim) 1795, 34]
[...] The elder Mademoiselle Keilholz came
back here after a time in order to settle her
affairs, and had to pay 100 ducats penalty on account
of the broken contract. She returned to Amsterdam and
took with her Herr Haßloch, who had been engaged
sometime earlier for the opera. The stage long felt
the loss of the elder Mademoiselle Keilholz.
(This passage seems to imply that Haßloch was still under contract with Mannheim when Christiane returned to settle her affairs, but that timing would seem to conflict with Dalberg’s memo of 27 Mar 1791, which stated, according to Walter, than Haßloch had already left the company by the time of the memo, around a year before the departure of the Keilholz sisters.) Whatever her problems with the directorate in Mannheim, Christiane was missed by the audience; a review of a performance on 29 Jun 1794 of Mozart’s Die Hochzeit des Figaro closes with the sentence:
Die Oper hatte seit dem Abgange der Delle. Keil=
holz gelegen.—Man vermißte sie als Susanna.
[Rheinische Musen, no. 12 (1794), 274]
The opera had not been given since the departure of
Demoiselle Keilholz.—One misses her as Susanna.
(For the complete review, see our entry for 24 Oct 1790; we suggest there that the review may have been written by Heinrich Gottlieb Schmieder, the editor of the Rheinische Musen.)
By Sep 1793, the Keilholz siblings and Haßloch had formed a new theater company that was engaged in Kassel. By the time of a report on the company in Rheinische Musen nine months later, Christiane, now 29, had married Haßloch, and her sister Dorothea had married a bass named Wachsmuth:
Von Hessen Cassel im Februar.
Hier ist seit dem September vorigen Jahrs für 9
Monate die Gesellschaft der Keilholzischen Ge=
schwister engagirt. Herr Keilholz spielt die ersten
Rollen im Schau= und Singspiel und dirigirt mit Hrn.
Haßloch — sonst beim Mannheimer Theater, izt
mit der ältern Dlle. Keilholz verheiratet. — Die
übrigen Mitglieder sind: Mad. Haßloch, für die er=
sten Liebhaberinnen im Sing= und Schauspiele, ihre
Schwester, izt auch verheirathet mit H. Schwarz
(sonst Wachsmuth) ersten Bassisten, nebst Dlle. Hu=
ber, für die zwoten und dritten Singrollen. Mad.
Huber für die Mütter. Herr Steinmann &c.
Die Gesellschaft erhält vom Hofe 5000 Rthlr. sie
giebt — im großen Opernhause — fast einzig Opern,
und den ganzen Monat hindurch kaum 4 Schauspiele.
[Rheinische Musen, no. 4 (1794), 93]
From Hessian Kassel in February.
The company of the Keilholz siblings has been
engaged here since September of last year for 9 months.
Herr Keilholz plays the first roles in plays and singspiels,
and directs with Herr Haßloch — formerly with the
Mannheim theater and now married to the elder
Mademoiselle Keilholz. — The other members are:
Madame Haßloch, for first romantic leads in singspiel
and plays; her sister, now also married to Herr Schwarz
(actually Wachsmuth), first bass; along with Mademoiselle
Huber for second and third singing roles, Madame
Huber for mothers, Herr Steinmann, &c.
The company receives 5000 Reichstaler from
the court, and gives, in the great opera house, almost
exclusively operas, and scarcely 4 plays throughout an
The association of the Keilholz siblings with the theater in Kassel was a relatively long, if intermittent and rather bumpy one; this portion of their careers has not been adequately researched, and we will not attempt to fill that gap here. A report published in the May 1798 issue of Journal des Luxus und der Moden shows that all three were in Kassel at that point. The correspondent praises the sisters highly, but criticizes Christiane for betraying her personal moods onstage:
Bey dem Schau= und Trauerspiel sind die ältere und jüngere
Keilholz, jetzt Mad. Haßloch und Wachsmuth, für
die ersten Rollen bestimmt. Es ist zu verwundern, wie weit
es diese Schwestern in ihrer Kunst gebracht haben, da doch
eigentlich die Oper ihr wahres Fach ist, und es so guten Sän=
gerinnen nicht zu verargen wäre, wenn sie ihre Brust mehr
schonten. Wenigstens findet man selten sowohl bey französi=
schen und italiänischen als deutschen Bühnen, daß eine und
dieselbe Person prima Donna in Oper und Schauspiel seyn
kann und will; indessen muß jeder mit Wahrheit sagen, daß
Mad. Wachsmuth ein eben so liebenswürdiger schön singender
Schelm von Amor im Baum der Diana, als interessante
Cora in der Sonnen=Jungfrau und den Spaniern
in Peru, Mad. Haßloch eine eben so schöne Diana als
gebieterische Orsina, sind. Die muntere Laune der Ersten ist
unnachahmlich. Das Rondeau im Baum der Diana Geh,
mein Geliebter &c. ist der Triumph der Mad. Haßloch.,
Ihre melodische Stimme, begleitet mit dem Empfindungs=
vollsten edelsten Spiel, entzücken mich. Aber ein paar Unar=
ten, die mich ärgerten, kann ich ihr nicht verzeihen. Mad.
H. hat ein sehr ausdrucksreiches Gesicht, auf dem man leicht
neben dem Ausdrucke, den sie ihm als zur Rolle passend zu
geben gedenkt, auch den, welchen die durch ihre eigene Laune
unwillkürlich annimmt, bemerkt, und dieses sollte doch eine
Künstlerin ihrer Art sich nicht zu Schulden kommen lassen.
So sieht man sie oft in einer komischen Rolle mit einem ern=
sten kalten, düsteren Gesicht; indem das Publikum dieses
nur als eine Geringschätzung ansehen kann, da es versichert
ist, sie könnte leicht anders, wenn sie nur wollte. Ein
andermal will sie ihrer Munterkeit und ihrem Lachen, das
sich vielleicht auf einige hinter der Coulisse vorgefallene Klei=
nigkeiten bezieht, eben so wenig Grenzen setzen; man
sagt, ihr Spiegel habe sie überredet, es sey ihr sehr vor=
theilhaft, dem Publikum eine schöne Perlenschnur von Zäh=
nen zu zeigen; er hat nicht unrecht, nur muß sie es mit Ver=
stand thun, und nicht, wie es vor einigen Abenden geschah,
mit wider das herrliche große Duet aus dem Oberon durch
ihr unnützes Lachen verderben. [...]
[Journal des Luxus und der Moden, May 1798, “Briefe über Kassel,” 286–87]
The leading roles in plays and tragedies are now assigned to
the elder and younger Keilholz sisters, now Madames
Haßloch and Wachsmuth. It is remarkable how far these
sisters have brought their art, given that opera is actually their
true specialty, and it would not be taken amiss were they
to rest their voices more. At any rate, one seldom finds on the
French and Italian, as well as German stages that one
and the same person is able and wishes to be prima donna in
both opera and plays; but everyone must truly admit that Madame
Wachsmuth is just as lovable and pretty a singing imp as Amor
in Der Baum der Diana as she is an interesting Cora in
Die Sonnenjungfrau and Die Spanier in Peru; and that
Madame Haßloch is just as fine a Diana as she is a commanding
Orsina. The cheerful caprice of the former is inimitable. The
rondò in Der Baum der Diana, “Geh, mein Geliebter, &c”, is the
triumph of Madame Haßloch. Her melodious voice, accompanied
by the most sensitive and noblest acting, enchanted me. But
I cannot forgive her a few bad habits that irritated me. Madame
H. has a very expressive face, in which one can easily notice,
in addition to the appropriate expression that she intends to
give to the role, also another that cannot help but betray her own
mood, and this is something that an artist of her stature should
not be guilty of. Thus one often sees her in comic roles with
a serious, cold, gloomy face; but the public can only take this
as disdain, since it is certain that she could easily do otherwise,
if only she wanted to. Other times, she will place just as little
restraint on her cheerfulness and laughter, which perhaps arises
from some trifles that occurred backstage. It is said that her mirror
has persuaded her that it would be very much to her advantage
to show the public a beautiful string of pearly teeth; it is
not wrong, but she must do so with sense and not, as happened
a few evenings ago, when her inappropriate laughter spoiled
the magnificent great duet from Oberon. [...]
This hints at an actress who was perhaps a bit bored and not fully engaged with her performances. The same correspondent was not a fan of Adolf Keilholz:
H r. Keilholz nimmt hier den Platz des ersten Tenoristen
ein. Stimme und Methode gehen an; aber übrigens ist er
mir nur zu einem Don Juan oder einem Pferdehändler im
Hokus pokus erträglich. Es liegt so etwas Krapuleuses in jeder
seiner Geberden und Mienen, daß er jede edlere Rolle enthei=
ligt. [Journal des Luxus und der Moden, May 1798, “Briefe über Kassel,” 288]
Herr Keilholz occupies the place of first tenor. Voice
and method are acceptable; but beyond this I find him
bearable only as Don Juan or a horse trader in Hokus
Pokus. There is something so crapulous in all of his
gestures and faces, that he desecrates every role.
(Hokus Pokus is a singspiel by Dittersdorf; it includes the role of Graf Goldbraun, “ein Pferdehändler.”)
In Jul 1800, Christiane Haßloch and her husband joined the company of the German theater in Hamburg, remaining nine months. Before going to Hamburg, the couple made guest appearances in Weimar and Berlin. Christiane’s first role in Weimar was Amalia in Schiller’s Die Räuber on 27 May 1800. The following day she appeared as Donna Anna in Don Juan, with husband Carl in the title role, and on 31 May, they took the roles respectively of Queen of the Night and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.
Their series of guest appearances in Berlin was more extensive, with Christiane performing eleven different roles, and Carl seven, all within the space of a month. As earlier in her career, Christiane continued to take leading roles in both operas and plays. Many (but not all) of the roles the couple performed in Berlin were ones they repeated in Hamburg. However, Christiane did not appear as Queen of the Night or Eulalia in Menschenhaß und Reue in Berlin, even though she did perform these roles in Hamburg and Carl made guest appearances in both in Berlin, as Tamino and as Peter. Carl sang Don Juan in Berlin, but in Hamburg he took the role of Ottavio; this unusual doubling suggests that he was a high baritone who sometimes took tenor roles, a not uncommon Fach on German stages at the time.
Guest appearances by the Haßlochs in the Nationaltheater in Berlin
13 Jun – 13 Jul 1800
Medea (Gotter and Benda)
Der Baum der Diana
Elise von Valberg (Iffland)
Romeo und Julie (Gotter and Benda)
Menschenhaß und Reue
Betrug durch Aberglauben
Johanna von Montfaucon (Kotzebue)
Johanna von Montfaucon
Der Barbier von Sevilla
Belmonte und Constanze
Die neuen Arkadier (Süßmayr/Vulpius)
This table of the Haßlochs’ guest appearances in Berlin is reconstructed from two sources. In the Taschenbuch fürs Theater. Zum neuen Jahrhundert (Hamburg, 1801, 165–66) their guest roles in Berlin are listed in chronological order, but without dates; later in the same article (183–84) there is a calendar of performances in Berlin for June 1800, but not July. For the schedule in July we have relied on the database at Berlin Klassik; the works listed there correspond precisely in correct chronological order to the lists of the Haßlochs’ guest roles in the Taschenbuch.
Christiane Haßloch made her debut in Hamburg on 23 Jul 1800 as Diana in Der Baum der Diana (poster, Universität Hamburg), just ten days after her final appearance in Berlin. Two days later, on 25 Jul 1800, Carl Haßloch made his Hamburg debut, as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, with Christiane as Konstanze.
Because images of the theater’s posters are now available online for this entire period, the repertoires of Christiane and Carl Haßloch in Hamburg can be reconstructed in full. Just as earlier in her career, the diversity and difficulty of Christiane’s roles is extraordinary, and was likely unprecedented at that time.
Roles performed by Christiane and Carl Haßloch in Hamburg
23 Jul 1800 to 13 Apr 1801
The dates correspond to the first appearance of the Haßlochs in these roles in Hamburg.
Der Baum der Diana
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Königin der Nacht
Menschenhaß und Reue
Eulalia (Mme. Müller)
Dom Juan [sic]
Johanna von Montfaucon
Die beyden Klingsberge
Das große Geheimniß
Romeo und Julie
Graf von Balken
Die geplagten Ehemänner
Das rothe Käppchen
Der Corsar aus Liebe
Die Verschwörung des Fiesko
Im Trüben ist gut fischen
Ein jünger Edelmann
Die Schwestern von Prag
Nicht mehr als sechs Schüsseln
Weltton und Herzensgüte
Herr von Füller
Die abgeredete Zauberey
Stille Wasser sind tief
Baronin von Holmbach
Christiane appeared in 26 different roles over the nine months that the Haßlochs were in Hamburg, including 13 operas and 13 plays; all her roles were major. In addition to the many leading roles from earlier in her career (such as Konstanze, Eulalia, Donna Anna, and Julie), she had added such major new ones as Lodoïska in Cherubini’s opera (in a German adaptation) and Leonore in Schiller’s Die Verschwörung des Fiesko. Carl’s repertoire in Hamburg was only slightly less ambitious: he appeared in 20 different roles, 10 operas and 10 plays; his were a mixture of leads and secondary parts. They appeared together in 12 different works. Christiane sometimes performed taxing leading roles on successive days. For example, she sang Almansaris in Paul Wranitzky’s Oberon on 7 Dec 1800, and appeared the following day as Leonore in Die Verschwörung des Fiesko. She sang Lodoïska on 19 Jan 1801, the day after having appeared as Eulalia in Menschenhaß und Reue. That she could make such back-to-back appearances with no reported ill effect on her voice suggests that she did, indeed, have sound vocal technique.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail was performed three times during the Haßlochs’ tenure in Hamburg, on 25 Jul, and 5 and 17 Sep 1800, but the Haßlochs appeared only in the first of these. On 5 and 17 Sep, the role of Konstanze was taken by “Madame Willmann aus Wien”, and Belmonte by Adam Kirchner. “Madame Willmann” was probably Ignaz Willmann’s second wife Marianne (née Tribolet, 1768–1813), not Christiane’s former nemesis from Bonn, Magdalena Willmann. Dom Juan (as it is consistently spelled on all the Hamburg posters) was given six times during the Haßlochs’ tenure (1 and 6 Aug, 1 Sep, 16 Oct, 10 Nov, and 27 Dec 1800), each time with Christiane as Donna Anna and Carl as “Dom Ottavio”. Die Zauberflöte was likewise given six times, on 28 Jul, 11 Aug, 10 Sep, 1 and 26 Oct 1800, and 13 Apr 1801. Christiane appeared as Queen of the Night in all of these, but Carl sang Tamino only in the first. (We do not know exactly when Christiane added this role to her repertoire, but it was likely before this time.) In the performances of Die Zauberflöte on 10 Sep and 1 Oct, Christiane shared the stage with Marianne Willmann, who took the role of Pamina (which she also sang at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna). Christiane’s appearance as Queen of the Night on 13 Apr 1801 was her last performance of a Mozart role in Hamburg. The Haßlochs’ final performance before their departure was in Menschenhaß und Reue, on 20 Apr 1801.
A brief report from Hamburg in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt singles out Christiane for praise for her performance as Blanka in Kotzebue’s play Bayard, first performed in Hamburg on 3 Mar 1801:
Deutsches Theater in Hamburg.
(Hamburg, 5 März.)
Bayard und Kotzebue hat auf unserm deutschen
Theater großes Glück gemacht; auch wird seit einem Monate
und länger fast nichts gegeben, als der Ritter ohne Furcht
und Tadel, und das endlos beliebte Weibchen der Donau.
Herzfeld giebt den Bayard nicht schlecht; vortreflich aber
präsentirt und spricht Mad. Haßloch die Blanka. Ein
schöner Körper, Seele im Blick, lebhafter und warmer
Ton der Sprache — diese Blanka muste gelingen. Läßt
man sie, wie es droht, auf Ostern abgehn, so fehlt es durch=
aus an einer Darstellerin für Rollen wie diese. Auch Mad.
Langerhans als Miranda verdient alles Lob. Dekora=
tionen und Kleidung, Beides is Kostüm= und Zeitgemäß.
[Zeitung für die elegante Welt, no. 42, Tue, 7 Apr 1801, col. 335]
German Theater in Hamburg.
(Hamburg, 5 March)
Bayard and Kotzebue have had great success
on our German stage; and for a month or longer almost
nothing else has been given except Der Ritter ohne Furcht
und Tadel and the endlessly popular Donauweibchen.
Herzfeld is not bad as Bayard; but Madame Haßloch
acts and speaks Blanka splendidly. A beautiful body,
soulfulness in her glance, lively and warm tone in speech
— this Blanka can only succeed. If she is allowed to leave
at Easter, as threatened, there will be no actress at all
for roles like this one. Madame Langerhans as Miranda
also deserves every praise. Sets and costumes, both
were appropriate to the customs and the time.
Der Ritter ohne Furcht is the subtitle of Kotzebue’s Bayard. Das Donauweibchen is the Viennese singspiel by Hensler and Kauer; it was first performed in Hamburg on 27 Jan 1801, and had been given thirteen times by the date of the report. The correspondent’s references are to Jacob Herzfeld, actor and co-director of the Hamburg theater, and soprano Johanna Langerhans (on Langerhans, see our entry for 19 Feb 1792; she sang the aria K. 505 at the Mozart memorial concert in Hamburg on that date.) The correspondent’s praise of Christiane Haßloch suggests that she had lost none of her emotional and communicative power as an actress.
The Haßlochs also appeared on a number of concerts during their time in Hamburg, and they gave two benefit concerts for themselves. The first of their benefits took place on Sat, 22 Nov 1800.
The concert opened with Joseph Haydn’s symphony “mit dem Pauckenschlag” (the “Surprise” Symphony no. 94, in G Major). Among the items performed by the Haßlochs was the quintet from the second act of Peter Winter’s “second part” of Die Zauberflöte (Das Labyrinth), with Christiane as Pamina and her husband as Tamino (the poster has “Pamino”). The concert closed with the final chorus from Mozart’s Idomeneo, an opera that the Haßlochs would go on to stage in German in Kassel. The poster for their benefit in Hamburg refers to the chorus “mit Solo der Elettra,” so it seems likely that the performance included Elettra’s accompanied recitative “Oh smanie! oh furie!” preceding the final chorus. Although the poster does not name the soloist, Elettra would certainly have been sung by Christiane Haßloch.
A correspondent to the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung attended the concert:
22) Am 22 Nov. , ebendaselbst Herr und
Mad. Hassloch, seit dem Anfang des Sommers
1800 und damals beyde zu den ersten Singpar-
tien bey der deutschen Oper engagirt. Herr
Hassloch besizt viele Musikkenntnisse, hat eine
angenehme, biegsame Tenorstimme, und singt
mit Geschmack. Er würde daher für jedes
Theater in unsern, an guten Tenoristen so arm-
seligen Zeiten eine eben so bedeutende als sel-
tene Akquisition seyn, wenn er nur eine etwas
mehr vortheilhafte Figure aufzuweisen hätte.
Mad. Hassloch, die vor ohngefähr 18 Jahren
als Demoiselle Keilholz hier sehr beliebt und
gelitten war, ist bey weitem die bedeutendste
Sängerinn, die wir seit der bis jezt unersezten
Righini auf unserm Theater gesehen und ge-
hört haben, auch überdies eine sehr brauchbare
Schauspielerinn; Schade nur, dass sie oft ziem-
lich stark lispelt, wodurch sie hin und wieder
unverständlich wird, und selbst ihr Gesang
nicht wenig leidet. Beyde haben uns im lezt-
verwichenen Frühjahre wieder verlassen, wo-
durch unsere Oper den lezten Stoss erhielt.
[AmZ, vol 4. col. 294]
22) On 22 Nov , in the same place,
Herr and Madame Haßloch, engaged at the
opera since the beginning of summer 1800 for
the leading vocal roles. Herr Haßloch possesses
much musical knowledge, has a pleasant, supple
tenor voice, and sings with taste. Thus he would
be just as important as rare an acquisition for any
theater in our times, so destitute of good tenors,
if only he were able to present a somewhat more
advantageous figure. Madame Haßloch, who
around 18 years ago, as Mademoiselle Keilholz,
was very popular and endured here, is by far the
most important female singer seen and heard on
our stage since Righini, who has not yet been
replaced, and in addition she is a very useable actress.
It is a pity only that she often lisps strongly, whereby
she now and again become unintelligible, and her
singing suffers not a little. Both left us again early
last year, which was the final blow to our opera.
The anonymous correspondent is comparing Christiane to Henriette Righini (née Kneisel, 1767–1801), wife of composer Vincenzo. The reference to Christiane’s “lisp” echoes Bertram’s criticism in 1790; “gelitten” (literally “suffered”) may recall Christiane’s (allegedly) temperamental withdrawal from the stage in Hamburg around the end of 1785, fifteen years earlier (local critics can have long memories).
On 24 Mar 1801 the Haßlochs mounted a benefit performance of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung. The oratorio had first been performed in Hamburg on 28 Feb as a benefit for the theater’s music director, Johann Friedrich Hönicke, who hired supplementary musicians from nearby Harburg and the theater in Altona in order to make his performing forces as large as possible (see the report in Zeitung für die elegante Welt, no. 44, Sat, 11 Apr 1801, cols. 350–51). The directorate of the Hamburg theater gave the oratorio again on 6 Mar, but without the supplementary musicians, and hence with less success. Local amateurs mounted a third performance in the Hamburg Ratskeller shortly afterwards. The Haßlochs’ performance of Die Schöpfung on 24 Mar was thus the fourth in Hamburg within the space of a month. Although the posters do not specify the soloists, Christiane and Carl Haßloch would likely have sung the soprano and tenor arias in all three performances in the theater, and certainly did so at their own benefit. Remarkably, the bass soloist on 24 Mar was the visiting Ludwig Fischer (1745–1825), who had created the role of Osmin in the original production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Vienna in 1782 and was now a celebrated member of the Italian opera in Berlin.
The Haßlochs also appeared in six benefit concerts for other musicians in Hamburg. On 25 Oct 1800 Christiane performed at a benefit concert for the bass singer Herr Ritzenfeldt; both Haßlochs sang on 29 Nov at a concert for violinist Louis Massoneau, on 20 Dec at a concert for baritone Friedrich Schröder, and on 21 Feb 1801 at a concert for tenor Adam Kirchner. Two other concerts in which the Haßlochs appeared are of particular interest here. On 13 Dec 1800, they performed at a concert given by tenor Friedrich Karl Gollmick (1774–1852). The fourth item in the first half of that concert was a “Terzett aus Idomeneo, von Mozart, gesungen von Madame Haßloch, Herrn Haßloch und Herrn Gollmick.” This must have been “Pria di partir, oh Dio!” from act 2 of Idomeneo, for Idamante, Elettra, and Idomeneo. Christiane Haßloch would have sung Elettra’s part; her husband and Gollmick were both experienced tenors, so we cannot say for certain which of them sang which of the other parts, although they must have performed a version with Idamante as a tenor rather than a soprano. The language of the performance is not specified on the poster, but it seems likely that the trio was sung in German, the language of the Haßlochs’ production of Idomeneo in Kassel around a year later.
On 21 Mar 1801, the Haßlochs performed at a benefit concert given by a Herr Bultos, a cellist in the orchestra of the Hamburg theater. The first half of that concert consisted of a performance of the first act of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. It was not the first time the Hamburg audience had had the opportunity to hear this music: the first act of Tito had been given there in concert on 7 Feb 1796 (probably by Constanze Mozart, although she is not mentioned on the poster).
The performance in Hamburg in 1801 included the overture and all numbers of the first act, except, apparently, no. 8, Tito’s “Ah, se fosse intorno al trono,” which does not correspond to any item on the poster. It seem likely that the simple recitatives were omitted; on the other hand, Sesto’s accompanied recitative no. 11, “Oh Dei, che smania è questa,” although it is not listed on the poster, might well have been included. No consistent connections were maintained in this performance between singers and roles. Sesto, originally a soprano, seems to have been sung in Hamburg both by a soprano (no. 1) and by at least one tenor (nos. 3 & 9); Annio, likewise originally a soprano role, was sung in Hamburg by a tenor (nos. 3 & 7) and (apparently) a soprano (no. 10). Carl Haßloch seems variously to have sung parts written for three different characters: Tito (no. 6), Annio (no. 7), and Sesto (no. 9). Because of this inconsistent connection between performers and roles, we cannot say for certain which tenor sang which part in the duettino no. 3. The language of the performance is not specified on the poster; it may have been German; however, the text incipits in the table below are given in the original Italian.
Items from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito performed at the concert
in Hamburg on 21 Mar 1801, with likely performers as per the poster
“Come ti piace imponi”
Christina Haßloch (Vitellia)
“Deh se piacer mi vuoi”
Christina Haßloch (Vitellia)
“Deh prendi un dolce amplesso”
Adam Kirchner (Sesto?)
“Serbate, oh Dei custodi”
“Del più sublime soglio”
Carl Haßloch (Tito)
“Ah perdona al primo affetto”
Johanna Langerhans (Servilla)
“Parto, ma tu ben mio”
Carl Haßloch (Sesto)
“Vengo … Aspettate
Johanna Langerhans (Vitellia)
Quintet & Chorus
“Deh conservate, oh Dei”
This performance was reviewed in the Raisonirendes Journal vom deutschen Theater zu Hamburg; the journal is attributed to Johann Friedrich Ernst von Brawe, whose similarly titled Raisonnirendes Theaterjurnal [sic] von der Leipziger Michaelmesse 1783 is our primary source for the date of the premiere of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Leipzig (see our entry for 4 Oct 1783). In that earlier publication Brawe claimed to have no feeling for music: he mentions the date of Entführung in Leipzig only in the course of explaining why he did not attend. By 1801, however, he no longer avoided writing about opera (even if he did so rather stiffly). Some of the singers he mentions in the review differ from those listed on the poster.
Sonnabends, den 21. März, gab Herr Bultos,
Mitglied unsers Orchester, im deutschen Schauspiel=
hause Concert, zu seinem Benefize. Darinne wurde
anfänglich die erste Abtheilung von der italienischen
Oper: la Clemenza di Tito, nach Mozarts Com=
position, ausgeführt. Die Vorträge im einzelnen
Gesange bearbeiteten Madame Langerhans, Madame
Menges, Mamsel Stegmann die iüngere, nebst denen
Herren Haßloch, Kirchner, und Ritzenfeldt. – Abge=
rechnet, daß Madame Menges durch Verspätigung den
Anfang des ersten Duet ein Wenig derangirte, und
daß auch im Finale manche Stimme merklich wankte,
beeyferten sich die Sängerinnen und Sänger insge=
samt, denen Vorschriften der meisterhaften Composi=
tion Genüge zu leisten. Den vorzüglichsten Erfolg
bewirkte Herr Haßloch, da er die übernommene Dis=
cantparthie äußerst wohlgefällig durchführte, und eine
Arie mit obligater Clarinette im hohen Grade ton=
künstlerischer Vollkommenheit vortrug. – Die So=
pranstimmen werden bey unserer Theatergesellschaft
von Zeit zu Zeit rarer. —
[Raisonirendes Journal vom deutschen Theater zu Hamburg, Fri, 27 Mar 1801, 177–78]
On Saturday, 21 March, Herr Bustos, a member of
our orchestra, gave a concert in the German theater
here for his own benefit. Performed at the beginning
was the first act of La clemenza di Tito, a composition
by Mozart. The individual vocal numbers were
prepared by Madame Langerhans, Madame Menges,
and the younger Mademoiselle Stegmann, along with
Herr Haßloch, Kirchner, and Ritzenfeldt. — Apart from
the fact that Madame Menges somewhat fluffed the first
duet by coming in late at the beginning, and that some
voices in the finale also wavered noticeably, the female
and male singers as a whole strove to meet the requirements
of the piece. The most splendid success was achieved
by Herr Haßloch, who brought off the adapted discant
part in a highly pleasing manner, and performed an aria
with obbligato clarinet with a high degree of artistic
perfection. — Soprano voices are becoming ever rarer
in our theater company as time goes on.
Brawe does not mention Madame Haßloch, but he does mention “Mamsel Stegmann die jüngere,” whose name is not on the poster; this must have been Wilhelmine Stegmann (later Schäfer, 1783–1861), third daughter of Carl David Stegmann. (Stegmann’s oldest daughter Caroline was already married, thus at the time of the concert the “elder” Mademoiselle Stegmann would have been Friederike, and the “younger” Wilhelmine.) Perhaps Christiane Haßloch was indisposed or could not perform for some other reason, and Wilhelmine Stegmann was a last-minute replacement. If so, the performers of various numbers may have been shuffled, and the duet “Come ti piace imponi” may not have been sufficiently rehearsed. The “aria with obbligato clarinet” sung by Carl Haßloch, which Brawe marks as the high point, is Sesto’s “Parto, ma tu ben mio” (Act 1, no. 9).
During the Haßlochs’ engagement in Hamburg, the theater in Kassel had been under the direction of Magdalena Viktoria Großmann (née Schroth), the second wife and now widow of Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann. From 1799 she had been co-director of the Kassel company with Carl Haßloch, and she became its sole director when the Haßlochs went to Hamburg. When the Haßlochs returned to Kassel, Carl assumed management of the theater. During the Haßlochs’ first season back in Kassel, the theater mounted a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in German, the earliest known complete performance of the opera in that language, and the first known production of the opera anywhere following the one given by Prince Johann Adam Auersperg in Vienna in 1786 (see our entry on that production). According to Loewenberg (1978, col. 386), the performance in Kassel took place on 1 Jan 1802, and the translation was by David August von Apell (1754–1832), a Kassel native, who is also credited with a German translation of La clemenza di Tito. It is Apell’s translation of Idomeneo that appears in Simrock’s piano-vocal score of the opera published in 1798. Loewenberg gives no source for the date of the performance of Idomeneo in Kassel, but his date has been generally adopted in the literature.
The Kassel performance of Idomeneo was reported in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung; from that report we know that Christiane Haßloch sang the role of Elettra (Elektra), her sister Dorothea Wachsmuth that of Ilia, and Carl Haßloch that of Idamante (Idamantus):
Kassel. Unser Theater hat etwas gewagt,
das noch keine deutsche Bühne unternommen:
Mozarts Idomeneus auf das Theater zu bringen,
und wenn man nur billig seyn will, muss man
sagen, mit viel Glück. Freylich bleibt diese
erhabene und tiefe Musik zunächst immer nur
für den bessern Ausschuss der Zuhörer: aber
desto verdienstlicher für die Direktionen, wenn
sie wenigstens zuweilen so etwas geben, um
den Gebildetern werth zu bleiben, und die
nicht Gebildeten, aber Bildungsfähigen, allmählig
zum Bessern zu leiten — was gewiss überall
gelingen wird, wenn man sich in Achtung zu
erhalten weiss und Ausdauer hat. Freylich
ist es nicht möglich für ein Personale, wie das
hiesige, alle Partien einer solchen grossen
Oper gehörig zu besetzen: aber wenn nur
einige vorzüglich, und die andern nicht schlecht
und mit Personen besezt sind, die wenigstens
gern leisten wollen, was in ihren Kräften
stehet, so hat man doch Etwas, und bekömmt
in der Folge mehr, weil die leztern (ganz von
der Natur Verwahrlosete abgerechnet) auf diese
Weise nach und nach besser werden. Madam
Hassloch, die von Hamburg, wo sie so sehr
viel Beyfall gefunden, zu uns gekommen, ist
als Elektra äusserst anziehend, obschon man
mit ihrem Gesang, gerade in dieser Rolle, nicht
ganz zufrieden seyn konnte — besonders treibt
sie in leidenschaftlichen Stellen die Stimme bis
über die Linien der Schönheit hinaus. Aber
ihr Spiel, ihre durch die geschmackvolleste
Kleidung noch mehr gehobene theatralische
Figur, ihre Stellungen und Situationen (von
denen sie, als Elektra, einige mit vielem Glück
nach der Hamilton gebildet zu haben schien)
sind rühmenswerth. Auch Hr. Hassloch (als
Idamantus) und Mad. Wachsmuth (als Ilia)
verdienten den Dank des Publikums. —
[AmZ, iv:21, 17 Feb 1802, cols. 342–43]
Kassel: Our theater has attempted something
that up to now no German stage has undertaken:
to bring Mozart’s Idomeneus to the theater—and
if one wishes to be fair, one must say, with great
success. Admittedly this elevated and profound
music is initially only for the better class of listener:
but it is all the more useful to the directors if they
at least occasionally give something like this, in
order to remain worthwhile for the educated, and
gradually to lead the uneducated but educable
to better things — which will certainly always
succeed if one knows how to remain attentive
and has perseverance. Of course it is not possible
for a company like the one here to fill properly all
the roles of such a great opera: but if only some
are excellent, and the others not bad and are taken
by people who at least would like to achieve what
is within their powers, then one has something
at least—and in consequence obtains more,
because the latter (excepting those neglected by
Nature) gradually become better in this way.
Madame Haßloch, who has come to us from
Hamburg, where she found so much acclaim,
is most appealing as Elektra, although one cannot
be entirely satisfied with her singing in precisely
this role; in particular, in the passionate passages
she drives her voice beyond the bounds of beauty.
But her acting, her theatrical bearing, elevated by
the most tasteful costumes, her poses and attitudes
(some of which she, as Elektra, appears to have
modeled with much success on Hamilton) are
praiseworthy. Herr Haßloch (as Idamantus)
and Madame Wachsmuth (as Ilia) also earned
the public’s thanks.
The reference is to the “Attitudes” of Emma, Lady Hamilton, who became famous for her manner of imitating poses from Classical art. Christiane Haßloch could have known of Hamilton’s “attitudes” from prints like the one shown below; if the reviewer is correct in detecting this influence, it suggests that Christiane was not resting on her considerable laurels as an actress, but rather continuing to study and experiment. The reviewer felt that Christiane sometimes pushed her voice beyond the bounds of beauty in the representation of high emotion; but modern listeners will know from such great singing actresses as Maria Callas and Teresa Stratas that characters in the throes of extreme emotion (which Elettra certainly sometimes is) do not always make beautiful sounds. From this point of view, Christiane Haßloch may have been ahead of her time, and perhaps also her audience.
In 1804 the Haßlochs are said then to have made a tour of German theaters, appearing in guest roles: in Apr 1804, for example, they performed several times in Frankfurt (see Bing 1892, 63). Their tour brought Christiane back to the Mannheim stage for the first time since leaving it in 1792. In May 1804, the journal Aurora published a remarkable and vivid review of Christiane’s four guest roles in Mannheim; it describes her performances of the title roles in Gotter and Benda’s Medea, and Ferdinando Paër’s Camilla (in German as Kamilla); Julie in Romeo und Julie; and the title role in Schiller’s Maria Stuart:
Hof=Theater in Mannheim.
Mannheim den 16. Mai 1804.
Wir haben gegenwärtig das Vergnügen, ein ehemahli=
ges Mitglied unserer Bühne, Mad. Haßloch, vom kur=
fürstlichen Hof=Theater zu Cassel, in einigen Gast=Rol=
len hier auftreten zu sehen.
Die Kunst, welche sie bei jeder Darstellung entfaltet,
ist noch die wohlbekannte, die uns ehedem so manchen
entzückenden Genuß gewährte; aber die Hülle, welche die=
sen zarten Geist bekleidet, ist spröder und widerstrebender
geworden. Nach zwölf Jahren eines mühevollen Lebens=
— denn so lange ist es, daß Mad. Haßloch uns verlas=
sen — hat diese große Künstlerinn noch den ergreifenden
Ausdruck der Leidenschaft, die Wahrheit in jeder Bewe=
gung, das tiefe Gefühl, dem im Herzen des Zuschauers
die gleichgestimmte Saite wiedertönt, den Zauber mahle=
rischer Gebilde, und
“ihr großes, feuersprühendes Auge”
in unsere Mitte zurückgebracht; aber der Reiz der blü=
henden Gestalt, die leisen Uebergänge wechselnder Em=
pfindung, der ungehemmte Fluß der Rede, frei von jeder
Wirkung organischer Gebrechen — diese sind der Zeit,
der unerbittlichen, zum Opfer gefallen.
Medeens Character — in diesem erschien sie zu=
erst — hätte nie sollen auf die Bühne gebracht werden.
Im Gebiete des Mitleides und des Schreckens mag die
tragische Kunst sich bewegen, aber Abscheu und Verach=
tung — und nur solche Gefühle vermag die unnatürlichste
der Mütter zu erwecken — duldet Melpomene nicht in
ihrem geweihten Kreise. Die Künstlerinn milderte vieles
bei der Darstellung, und wahrscheinlich ist es dieser herr=
schenden Idee zuzuschreiben, daß Mad. Haßloch den Feh=
ler beging, einzelne Worte, dem allgemeinen Ausdrucke
der Empfindung zuwider, zu mahlen. So sprach sie zum
Beispiel in der Stelle:
“daß ich hasse, wie ich liebe”
den Nachsatz im Tone sanfter Zärtlichkeit, der jedoch nur
ein Glied in der Kette heftiger Vorwürfe ist, womit sie
ihren Treulosen bestürmt. So kleine Flecken verschwinden
übrigens in dem vollendeten Kunstwerke, und nur der
Raum verhindert uns, die große Menge einzelner Schön=
heiten anzuführen, welche diese Vorstellung auszeichneten.
Den größten Beifall erhielt Medeens seelenvolles Spiel
beim Anblicke ihrer Kinder; allgemeine Rührung und die
kaum verhaltenen Thränen der zahlreichen Zuschauer feier=
ten in diesem Augenblicke den Triumph der Künstlerinn
würdiger, als nach geendigtem Stücke das lärmende Her=
ausrufen, welches schon zu oft an die Lieblinge der
Gallerie verschwendet ward, um für Mad. Haßloch als
ehrende Belohnung gelten zu können.
Kamilla — diese war ihre zweite Gast=Rolle —
ist hier stets ohne besondere Theilnahme gesehen worden,
wozu unstreitig die traurige Einförmigkeit der Situation
das meiste beiträgt. Nur die geringe Zahl der Kenner
wird durch die vorzügliche Musik entschädigt, und auch
diesen Genuß schmälert die gewöhnliche Unfähigkeit der
Sänger im Spiel ihrer Rollen. Etwas von dieser ungün=
stigen Stimmung schien sich heute auch über Mad. Haß=
loch zu verbreiten, und wiewohl ihr Gesang und ihre Dar=
stellung bei weitem nicht vernachläßigt können genannt
werden, so hatten wir doch Ursache zu beklagen, daß uns
die Gemächlichkeit des Oper=Personales um Glucks
Iphigenia in Tauris gebracht hatte, deren Vor=
stellung wir, noch in der Erinnerung früheren Genusses
schwelgend, mit Recht erwarten durften. Dafür sahen
wir Mad. Haßloch als Julie, in dem Singspiele: Ro=
meo und Julie, welches seit ihrem Abgange nicht
mehr auf die hiesige Bühne gebracht worden ist. Wer
hätte es auch wagen dürfen, nach dieser Julie auf=
zutreten? — Alles ist vollendet in dieser Darstellung,
ergreifend der Ausdruck jeder Empfindung, hinreißend ihr
Gesang. — Die Arie: “Meinen Romeo zu sehen &c.”
begeisterte — entzückte das Publicum so sehr, daß man
alle Rücksicht vergaß, und deren Weiderhohlung mit stür=
mischer Freude verlangte: die Künstlerinn erfüllte den
schmeichelhaften, obgleich ein wenig unbescheidenen Wunsch
der ihr huldigenden Menge, und wiederhohlte die Arie,
ohne irgend eine Aeußerung von — angeblicher Schwäche!
Schillers Maria Stuart beschloß die Reihe der
Gast=Rollen, worin Mad. Haßloch hier auftrat. Mit Recht
könnte diese Vorstellung ein vollkommenes Ganze genannt
werden, wenn es nur einer Person bedürfte, um ein
solches zu bilden. Die Künstlerinn stand allein auf uner=
reichter Höhe, und in immer weiterer Entfernung die Mit=
spieler unter ihr. Auf jeder Stufe vermißte man einen
von ihren Vorzügen, auf der letzten sogar — die Sprache.
Ihrem Spiele durch alle Scenen zu folgen, erlaubt der
Umfang dieses Blattes nicht; einiges nur über die Un=
terredung mit Elisabeth:
“wie sie der edle, königliche Zorn umglänzte.”
Mit verständiger Kühnheit hatte sie sich über die Pedan=
terie des Costümes hinweggesetzt; und, indeß die Köni=
ginn von England — einer mißverstandenen Stelle des
Dichters wegen, und dessen eigener Anordnung in Wei=
mar zuwider — ihre Krone noch aus dem Audienz=Saale
“wo die tobende Jagd erscholl,”
erschien Maria einfach weiß, mit weißem Schleier; diese
letzte Zierde begleitete in immer wechselnder Gestalt die
mahlende Geberde, und in freier Schönheit umfloß das
faltenreiche Gewand die edle Dulderinn. Durch die Ge=
walt aller Leidenschaften, welche in dieser Scene die Un=
glückliche bestürmen, war stets der Adel des Betragens
sichtbar, der höheren Ständen zur Natur geworden. Das
gebeugte Weib zu Elisabeths Füßen war eine Königinn,
und auch die beleidigte Maria sprach das durchbohrende
Wort zu ihrer Feindinn mit dem Anstande einer Köni=
ginn — so, daß uns diese Darstellung als ein seltenes,
aber würdiges Gegenstück zu Iffland’s Grafen Wodmar
überraschte. Daß sie allen Wohlklang, der in der Sprache
des Dichters liegt, getreu wiedergab, und keinen Vers
eigenmächtig veränderte, erwähnen wir nur deßwegen,
weil diese Achtung gegen Geisteswerke auf der deutschen
Bühnen noch ungewöhnlich ist.
[Aurora, no. 63, Fri, 25 May 1804, 249–50]
Court Theater in Mannheim.
Mannheim, 16 May 1804.
We have just had the pleasure of seeing a former member
of our stage, Madame Haßloch of the princely Court
Theater in Kassel, appear in several guest roles here.
The art that she deploys in every performance is still
what we recall so well from the past and afforded us
so much enchanting pleasure; but the shell that clothes
this spirit has become brittle and more recalcitrant. After
twelve years of a difficult life — for so long has it been since
Madame Haßloch left us — this great artist has brought
back to our midst that gripping expression of passion, the
truth of every movement, the deep feeling that plucks the
like-tuned string in the heart of the spectator, the magic
of pictorial form, and
“her great, fire-spewing eye.”
But the charm of her blooming figure, the soft transitions of
changing feeling, the unrestricted flow of speech, free from
every sign of organic affliction — these have fallen victim
to inexorable time.
Medea’s character — in this did she first appear —
should never have been brought to the stage. The tragic
art may move within the realms of pity and fear; but
loathing and contempt (and only the most unnatural
mother can awaken such feeling), these Melpomene
cannot tolerate within her sacred circle. The artist
softened much in her performance, and it can probably
be attributed to this prevailing idea that Madame Haßloch
made the mistake of depicting individual words contrary
to the general expression of the feeling. For example,
in the passage:
“that I hate, as I love,”
she spoke the second phrase in a tone of soft tenderness,
when it is a link in a chain of fierce accusations with which
she assails her betrayer. Such small flecks disappear
in any case in the completed work of art, and only space
prevents us from listing the great throng of individual
beauties that distinguished this performance. Medea’s
soulful acting at the sight of her children received the
greatest applause; the general emotion and unrestrained
tears of the numerous audience celebrated at this moment
the triumph of the artist more worthily than the tumultuous
curtain calls after the piece ended, which are too often
squandered on the darlings of the gallery to be able to
count as an estimable reward for Madame Haßloch.
Kamilla — this was her second guest role — has
continually aroused little interest here, which unquestionably
arises from the dreary uniformity of the dramatic situation. Only
the small number of connoisseurs are compensated by the
excellent music, and this enjoyment also offsets the usual
incapacity of the singers in the performance of their roles.
Something of this inauspicious mood seemed also to spread
today over Madame Haßloch, and although her singing and
acting can by no means be said to have been negligent,
even so we had cause to complain that we might justifiably
have expected that the opera personnel could have indulged
us with Gluck’s Iphigenie in Tauris, the earlier pleasures of
whose performance still fill our memories. In compensation
we had Madame Haßloch as Julie in the singspiel Romeo und
Julie, which has not been brought to the stage here since her
departure. Who would have dared it after such a Julie? —
Everything was perfect in this performance, the expression
of every feeling was moving, her singing was enchanting. —
The aria “Meinen Romeo zu sehen &c.” so captivated
the public that all caution was forgotten, and an encore
was demanded with rapturous joy; the artist fulfilled this
flattering (although rather immodest) wish of the worshipful
throng, and repeated the aria, without any outward sign
of apparent weakness!
Schiller’s Maria Stuart ended the series of guest roles in which
Madame Haßloch appeared here. This performance could
justifiably be called a perfect whole, if a single person
were able to create one. The artist stood alone at
an unreachable height, and at ever greater distance from
those acting with her. At every step her merits surpassed
the others, even to the last—her elocution. The space in this
newspaper does not permit us to follow her acting through
every scene; only something on her conversation with
“as her noble, queenly wrath blazed forth.”
With sensible boldness she had defied the pedantry of
tradition, and even though—on account of a misunderstood
direction by the author, and counter to his own practice
in Weimar— the Queen of England still wore her crown
outside the Audience Hall,
“where the clamorous hunt sounds,”
Maria appears simply in white, with white veils; these
latter adornments follow her pictorial gestures in ever
changing form, and the richly folded fabric flows about
the noble sufferer in free beauty. Throughout the powerful
passions that rage about the unfortunate woman in this scene,
the nobility of her behavior was constantly visible and her
high rank was brought to life. The woman who bowed
down at Elisabeth’s feet was a queen, and the abused
Maria spoke the piercing word to her enemy with the dignity
of a queen—so that this performance surprised us as a rare
and worthy counterpart to Iffland’s Count Wodmar. That
she accurately reproduced all the euphony that lies in the
poet’s words, and did not make a single arbitrary alteration
to the verse, we mention only because this respect for
an intellectual work is so uncommon on the German stage.
The quotation “ihr großes, feuersprühendes Auge” (her great, fire-spewing eye) is from chapter 28 (“Leontion an Glycera”) of Christoph Martin Wieland’s novel Menander und Glycerion, which had just recently been published. The reviewer’s negative comment on Medea pertains to the suitability of the story for the stage, not to Christiane’s performance, which the reviewer praises. The reviewer quibbles with her rendition of the line “daß ich hasse, wie ich liebe” (that I hate, as I love), from Medea’s long opening monologue in the first scene. But to a modern audience, abrupt changes of affect in the delivery of lines spoken by a character driven to the point of insanity by powerful and conflicting emotions would probably seem realistic, and preferable to a specious uniformity of tone. The quotation “wie sie der edle, königliche Zorn umglänzte” (as her noble, queenly wrath blazed forth) is from Schiller’s Maria Stuart, Act 3, scene 5, Mortimer to Maria: “Wie dich der edle königliche Zorn / Umglänzte, deine Reize mir verklärte! Du bist das schönste Weib auf dieser Erde!”. The line “wo die tobende Jagd erscholl” is from Act 3, scene 1 of the same play. It is spoken by Maria to Hanna Kennedy; the setting is outdoors in parkland: “Oft vernahm sie mein Ohr mit Freuden, / Auf des Hochlands bergigen Haiden, / Wann die tobende Jagd erscholl.” Graf Wodmar, in the reviewer’s comparison with Iffland, is a lead role in Gemmingen’s Der deutsche Hausvater.
Dorothea Wachsmuth, née Keilholz, died in 1804; at present, we do not know the exact date of her death or where she died. Because we do not know when she was born, neither do we know her age at the time of her death, but she is unlikely to have been older than 35. Dorothea had spent her career largely in the shadow of her older sister. In her youth she was sometimes criticized for over-exuberance as an actress; but the praise in the report from Kassel in May 1798 (quoted above) suggests that she had grown into a mature and popular performer. Even in her younger years she had fans: the first volume of Annalen des Theaters, published in 1788, includes a poem addressed to her (“Der Knabe. An Demoiselle Keilholz, die jüngere”). The poet tells of having seen on the stage “a boy of extraordinary gifts” (Ich sah vor kurzem einen Knaben von außerordentlich Gaben), a boy who acted as if his heart had been pierced by love’s arrow. The boy was lovely, youthful, naive, free. He sang with silvery tones and great feeling. In each stanza Dorothea’s imagined responses to the poet are indented and quoted. The last of the six stanzas reads:
E rinnerst du dich keines Knaben
Mit blauem Auge, blondem Haar? —
Kurz, daß ich Dir ihn näher bringe,
So wisse, daß er, den ich singe,
Nicht Knabe — daß er Mädchen war!
“Ah darum rühmten Sie ihn so! —
“Wer war das Mädchen denn und wo?”
Du selbst, als Pag’ im Figaro!
[Annalen des Theaters, 1788, i:124–25]
Do you not remember a boy
With blue eyes, blond hair? —
In short, to give you a hint who I mean,
Know that he of whom I sing
Was no boy — he was a girl!
“Ah, so that is why you praise him so! —
“Who was the girl then, and where?”
You yourself, as the Page in Figaro!
It is tempting to think that the poet is referring to Dorothea as Cherubino in Mozart’s opera. Indeed it is likely (although not certain) that she sang this role in the premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro in Bonn on 14 Nov 1789 (see above and our entry on that premiere), and she certainly sang it in the opera’s premiere in Mannheim the following year. But the poem was published in 1788, and we have no evidence that Dorothea (or her sister) had the opportunity to learn or perform this opera prior to their engagement in Bonn; it was not in the repertory of the Klos company in 1787 and 1788, or that of its short-lived predecessor, the Großmann-Klos company. It is more likely, then, that the poet is referring to Dorothea performing “Cherubin” in a German version of Beaumarchais’s original play. This does not entirely solve the problem, however: the Großmann-Klos company is not known to have performed the play (although it had been a staple of Großmann’s previous company), nor is the Klos company known to have had it in its repertory during the period when the Keilholz sisters were members (the play is not in the company’s repertory list printed in ThK 1789, 174–75). Beaumarchais’s Figaro had been performed in Hamburg as early as 18 May 1785 and was repeated there often, but (according to the posters) Dorothea did not appear in that production. At present, then, we do not know where or when Dorothea performed the role of the Page in Beaumarchais’s play, although the poem itself is strong evidence that she did.
In Dec 1804, a touching and sad eulogy to Dorothea Wachsmuth was published in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden:
Erinnerung an eine zu früh verblichene Schauspiele=
rin Mad. Wachsmuth geb. Keilholz.
(Von einem ihrer Zuschauer ihr gewidmet.)
Wer einem Publikum Freude machte, verdient auch
von ihm bei gewissen Schlußperioden ein Andenken gewidmet
zu erhalten. Da Schreiber dieses aber mit dem Gange der
leicht vergessenden Welt bekannt ist, und mit Unwillen
Jemandem seinen wohl verdienten Lohn entzogen sieht, so
weihet er einer früh dahin geschiedenen braven Schauspie=
lerin diese wenigen Worte in Ermangelung einer kleinen
Rede, die man ihr wohl auf der Bühne, wo sie ihre besten
Talente zeigte, und wo man ihre letzten Kräfte schwinden sah,
hätte zum Andenken halten können. Mad. Wachsmuth
war in vieler Hinsicht eine seltene Erscheinung für eine
Teutsche Schauspielerin in dem Fache, welches sie spielte.
In der Oper wie im Schauspiel giebt es ein Fach, welches
den ganzen Zauber der da fesseln soll, umfaßt — es ist das
idealische — poetische. — In Schauspielen legt man diesen
reizertheilenden poetischen Theil in die naiven Rollen, in
Opern entweder gleichfalls in diese, oder es erscheint irgend
eine leichtfüßige Gottheit, welche richtig vorzustellen Ge=
stalten erfordert wie man sie in dieser Welt, am seltensten
aber in unserem allzu ernsten Teutschland, nicht findet.
Mad. Wachsmuth schien nicht bloß durch ihre zauberi=
sche Gestalt zu solchen Rollen bestimmt; sondern auch durch
ihre Ausbildung, durch ihren Gesang, der ganz die gute
Italienische Methode athmete — obgleich ihre schwache
Stimme durch die Gewalt, mit der sie auf dem Theater sin=
gen mußte, oft etwas herbe wurde. Ueberraschend war die
Vielseitigkeit dieser talentvollen Frau. Eben so belustigte
ihre natürliche Lustigkeit in naiven Rollen als Emilie, im
Kind der Liebe &c. als sie in zärtlichen tief rührte. Unver=
geßlich bleibt sie dem unpartheiischen Kenner als Cora,
Oberon, Amor im Baum der Diane. An der Ver=
schiedenheit dieser drei Rollen, wird man schon sehen, wie
sie das Lob der Vielseitigkeit verdient; um so mehr da sie
mit gleichem Glücke die verschiedenartigsten Rollen des
Schauspiels so wie der Oper ausführte. Als junges Mäd=
chen trat sie auf der Kaßler Bühne auf, gefiel und bezau=
berte das Publikum; späterhin ließ man ihr keine volle
Gerechtigkeit wiederfahren: die Anstrengung die ihre schwa=
che Gesundheit heischte, erregte Mitleiden. Die Menge
trägt dieses aber nicht lange, und so wird der arme Gegen=
stand am Ende das Opfer abgedrungener unangenehmer Ge=
fühle. So war es mit der armen Wachsmuth. Ein
jeder setzte etwas an ihr aus, und wußte selbst nicht was,
weil der Grund in ihrer angehenden Krankheit lag, die den
Zuschauer und sie verstimmten. Durch ihren Beruf ge=
zwungen, spielte sie, bis der Tod nach einer kurzjährigen
Auszehrung sie erlöste. Gerechtigkeit ihren Talenten! dies
ist der vereinte Wunsch aller wahren Kunstfreunde.
[Journal des Luxus und der Moden, vol. 19, Dec 1804, 595–97]
Remembrance of an actress who perished too soon,
Wachsmuth, née Keilholz
(Dedicated to her by one of her audience)
One who has given joy to the public also deserves, at
certain points of closure, to receive back from it a dedicated
memorial. Because, however, the writer of these lines is acquainted
with the way of things in this quickly forgetful world, and is
unwilling to see someone denied her well-deserved reward, thus
he is dedicating these few words to a fine actress who died too
soon, in lieu of the short speech that ought to have been given
in her memory on the stage where she displayed her best talent,
and where her final powers were seen to fade. Madame
Wachsmuth was in many respects a rare figure for a German
actress in the Fach in which she acted. In operas as well as plays
there is a Fach that encompasses all of the magic that is meant
to be captured in them — it is the ideal — the poetic. — In plays,
this appealing poetic aspect is placed in the naive roles; in operas,
one does the same, or it appears in some fleet-footed deity, who
rightly needs to be played in a manner that is not of this world,
but which is very rarely found in our all-too-serious Germany.
Madame Wachsmuth seemed made for such roles, not only
because of her magical presence, but also through her training,
and through her singing, which breathed completely of the good
Italian method — although her weak voice often became somewhat
harsh from the force with which she had to sing in the theater.
The versatility of this talented woman was surprising. Her natural
gaiety amused equally in such naive roles as Amalie in Das
Kind der Natur, as it was moving in tender ones. For the
impartial connoisseur, she remains unforgettable as Cora,
Oberon, Amor in Der Baum der Diana. From the diversity of
these three roles it will already be seen how she merits the
praise of versatility, all the more so because she performed the
most diverse roles in both plays and opera. She appeared on
the Kassel stage as a young woman, pleasing and enchanting
the public; later she was not done full justice: the exertion that
her weak health demanded aroused pity. But the mob does not
tolerate this for long, so the poor creature in the end becomes
the victim of forced unpleasant feelings. So it was with poor
Wachsmuth. Everyone found some fault with her, and did not
know what it was — because the reason lay in her emerging
illness, which irritated the audience and her. Forced by her
occupation, she acted until death released her after a few years
of consumption. Justice to her talents! this is the united wish
of all true friends of art.
Because we do not know when Dorothea was born, we cannot say how old she was when she came to Kassel in 1793, but she was probably around 20, or a year or two on either side. The eulogist’s references are to the role of Amalie (not Emilie) in Kotzebue’s Das Kind der Liebe (not “Natur”), Cora in Kotzebue’s Die Sonnenjungfrau, the title role in Paul Wranitzky’s Oberon, and Amor in Der Baum der Diana, a German version of Martín y Soler’s L’arbore di Diana. The writer’s reference to “die gute italienische Methode” (the good Italian method) may hint at her vocal training and her sister’s. At present, we know only that Christiane Keilholz studied with Johann Friedrich Hönicke, who was not a singer, but a good musician, becoming director of music and leader of the orchestra in the Hamburg theater. She may also have studied with soprano Felicitas Agnesia Benda (née Ritz), who had studied in Würzburg with tenor Domenico Steffani; according to Gerber (Neues Lexikon, iv, col. 269), Steffani taught at the Conservatorio della Pietà in Venice, before being brought to Würzburg to establish a singing school there. It seems likely that Dorothea and Christiane studied with the same teachers; if so, both may have been trained in “the good Italian” method by Benda who had received it from Steffani. If Christiane had a foundation of good vocal training of this sort, it would help explain how she was able to undertake so many demanding leading roles in operas and plays in quick succession, sometimes even back-to-back.
The eulogist speaks of Dorothea suffering from “Auszehrung,” which in the eighteenth-century primarily meant “consumption.” Although historical diagnosis is anything but an exact science, Dorothea’s slow decline from a wasting disease that affected her lungs would be consistent with tuberculosis. Even her eulogist probably did not know that she had sung Cherubino under Mozart’s direction in Mannheim in 1790.
In 1810 Carl Haßloch came to the court theater in Darmstadt as tenor and director, and in 1813 he was named Hofkapellmeister there (Schweitzer 1975, 26). His wife Christiane also performed in the theater in Darmstadt, although this portion of her career has yet to be investigated. According to Schweitzer, the Haßlochs had two sons in the years between Kassel and Darmstadt: Christian born in 1805, and Wilhelm born in 1807. If that is correct, Christiane would have had these two sons at a relatively late age, around 41 and 43. The Haßlochs may also have had an older son, Carl August. He is mentioned in the sad story (which we have not yet been able to verify) that Schweitzer tells about Christiane’s death:
Christiane Haßloch starb am 25. Dezember 1820 an einer Jahre lang andauernden Gemütskrankheit. Sie konnte den Verlust ihres Sohnes Carl August, der in den Jahren 1812–1815 mit der Armee Napoleons nach Rußland mußte, nicht verwinden. Carl August hatte es bis zum Leutnant gebracht. Bei dem Rückzug der französischen Armee kam er nicht weiter als nach Wilna, wo er teils durch Kälte, Hunger und Strapazen gestorben war. [Schweitzer 1975, 30]
Christiane Haßloch died on 25 December 1820 after an emotional illness that had lasted some years. She could not overcome the loss of her son Carl August, who had to go to Russia with Napoleon’s army in 1812–1815. Carl August had advanced to the rank of lieutenant. During the retreat of the French army, he made it no further than Vilnius, where he died, in part from cold, hunger, and exertion.
In other words, Christiane died of a broken heart. She was 56.
Christiane and Dorothea Keilholz both performed in important productions of Mozart’s operas, ranging from the Mannheim premiere of Die Hochzeit des Figaro on 24 Oct 1790—probably under Mozart’s direction—to the earliest known production of Idomeneo in German, in Kassel in 1802. Dorothea may have played the role of Cherubino in the Bonn premiere of Figaro (probably on 14 Nov 1789), and Christiane may have sung Susanna in that production; she certainly sang Susanna as a guest role in Frankfurt on 25 Sep 1790. The roles of Konstanze, Donna Anna, and Queen of the Night became staples of Christiane’s repertoire and she sang them often; she seems to have performed in Figaro less often. In 1802 she sang Elettra (Elektra) in the Kassel production of Idomeneo. She was also announced as Vitellia for a concert performance of the first act of La clemenza di Tito in Hamburg in 1801, but it remains uncertain whether she actually appeared (a review of the concert does not mention her). During her career, Dorothea, primarily a soubrette, sang the roles of Blonde, Cherubino, Zerlina, and (in 1802) Ilia.
In the summer of 1790, the Keilholz sisters made an extraordinary series of guest appearances with the Nationaltheater in Mannheim, appearances that served as their tryouts for the company, which did not have obvious openings for them. Nevertheless, both were hired, mainly on the strength of Christiane’s extraordinary performances. Two of the works in their series of tryouts were by Mozart. They first performed in Mannheim on 6 Jun 1790 in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (as Konstanze and Blonde); and on 13 Jun 1790, they appeared together in Don Juan (as Donna Anna and Zerlina). That they chose two operas by Mozart for their all-important tryouts suggests they knew that both were already in the Mannheim repertory and both were popular there. The enthusiastic reception of Christiane’s performance as Konstanze is particularly striking, as that role had long been sung in Mannheim by Josepha Beck (née Schäfer), one of the great Mozart sopranos of the era.
Both Keilholz sisters performed major roles in operas and spoken theater throughout their careers. In the eighteenth century, members of traveling theater companies were often required both to act and sing as circumstances required; but by the last two decades of the eighteenth century, such crossing over between opera and spoken theater was already less common in resident companies, such as those in Hamburg, Bonn, and Mannheim. In fact, it is difficult to name prominent examples of actresses in resident German companies at the end of the eighteenth century who took leading roles in both genres. One was Minna Brandes, who performed leading roles in opera and plays in Hamburg in the 1780s, and may have been the motivation for the Keilholz sisters to do the same. Another actress successful in both genres was Friedericke Betmann-Unzelmann (1760–1815), although contemporaneous accounts suggest that she was a stronger actress than a singer (Laskus 1927, 35ff).
The Keilholz sisters may have received sound vocal training in “the Italian method” from Felicitas Agnesia Benda. While Christiane unquestionably had the greater natural vocal talent, Dorothea also had a successful career, cut short by illness, probably tuberculosis. Their good vocal training would have been essential in maintaining their vocal health in grueling performance schedules that sometimes required appearing in different major roles on successive days.
Reviewers who witnessed Christiane’s performances were nearly unanimous in their praise of her powerful acting, in both operas and plays. Although she made a good impression as a singing actress in her younger years in Hamburg, she seems not to have begun to incorporate major roles from spoken theater into her repertoire until after her departure from the Hamburg company in 1786. She may have been inspired to take on major roles in plays because of her rivalry with Minna Brandes, who was successful in both genres. That Christiane was able to achieve acclaim as a major actress in serious stage roles such as Eulalia in Menschenhaß und Reue and Luise in Kabale und Liebe in Mannheim in 1790, after (apparently) only four years of experience, is a testament to her talent, intelligence, and ambition. She continued to add major roles in both opera and spoken theater to her repertoire throughout her career: prominent examples are the title roles in Cherubini’s Lodoïska and Schiller’s Maria Stuart—and, of course, Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte.
Throughout her career, critics referred to Christiane’s powerfully evocative physical and facial acting, which was reputedly able to transmit intense emotions directly to audiences in ways that left them spellbound and sometimes in tears. She was at her greatest in portrayals of women of intense and conflicting emotion: Konstanze, Donna Anna, Queen of the Night, Elettra, Eulalia, Nina, Julie (in Romeo und Julie), and Maria Stuart, to name only a few of the most prominent roles. That Christiane was also physically beautiful (as reviewers continually attested and can be seen from her portrait) also undoubtedly played a role in the impact she had on her male audience. Comedy was not her forte, although she did not entirely avoid comedic roles; her sister Dorothea had more success in that genre. Christiane’s acting style was probably rooted in the great actors she had seen early in life, most notably Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, one of the most influential actors of the era (on Schröder, see especially Williams 1985, 54–62). But the reports of those who saw Christiane at her best suggest that she brought an inventive genius of her own to her portrayals.
The history of the Keilholz family hints at a family dynamic that was central to their lives but perhaps not altogether healthy, and one is often reminded of modern cases of ambitious parents managing (or attempting to manage) the careers of their talented children. The Keilholz family was a theatrical one, but father and mother seemed to have stopped performing by around 1782. The eldest child, Adolf, a good tenor but by all accounts a bad actor, probably initially became the family’s primary breadwinner. Brandes, in his autobiography, mentions that the Keilholz family had a benefactor in Hamburg, who may have helped support the family while the sisters continued their studies. But Christiane had already demonstrated her star quality at a young age during the family’s engagement in Hamburg between 1777 and 1780; indeed, one suspects that a primary motivation of the new Hamburg directorate in recalling the Keilholz family from Münster in 1780 was to have Christiane back. She was still only 15, but already unquestionably a star. Philipp Keilholz, the father, seems to have continued to manage the sisters’ careers, at least through the period of their engagement in Mannheim. Their brother Adolf Keilholz maintained a career that was largely separate from the rest of the family between his flight from Hamburg in 1786 and the siblings’ reunion in Amsterdam in 1792 in Dietrichs’ company. It seems plausible that Christiane and Dorothea might have broken their Mannheim contracts precisely in order to reunite the family.
The Keilholz saga is an illuminating case study in the varying fortunes of a family attempting to make lives and livelihoods in the theater under the continually fluid and unstable circumstances of the eighteenth century. Their theatrical lives became interwoven with Mozart’s operas from an early point. It is precisely because of Christiane’s powerful acting and singing in the roles of Konstanze, Donna Anna, Queen of the Night, and Elettra that she deserves wider recognition as one of the pre-eminent Mozart sopranos of her era and an important force in the early reception of his operas on the German stage.