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Between Fire and Ice – Adrienne Haan brings new energy to Cabaret at Café Sabarsky

Established by Ronald Lauder, the prestigious museum’s collection of works by so-called “degenerate artists,” as well as art and objects from the Vienna Secession, creates an environment conducive to atmospheric music that reflects the period’s Zeitgeist; it was a time exploding with creativity and rebellion, characterized by the persistent search for one’s own identity and expression in a changing socio-political climate, famously portrayed by another female heroine, Marlene Dietrich, in her prominent film role of Lili Marlene. Haan calls it: “The dance on the volcano between the two World Wars, a bodacious period probing the ties between feminine struggle and female glamour.”

Café Sabarsky’s established cabaret series has seen some of the genre’s great talents; the name Ute Lemper, a high-caliber representative of this particular German-flavored art form, spiked with intense theatrical drama and calculated audience engagement, comes to mind.

While stringing these rare cultural pearls from the past and uniquely foreign aura often seems to call for a delivery portrayed with a fake sentimental slant, Haan begs to differ – her scripted realization of these art songs is never cliché; she reserves room for a deeply felt, personal freshness and a smart bite – she is a true interpreter of the genre.

Like some of the paintings within the café’s neighboring galleries of the old world 19th century villa, Haan vibrantly portrays the full bag of mixed (sometimes excessive) characteristics and emotions, like the attractive and the ugly, the rebellious and the shady, the fear and hope so inherently depicted by the art of the time. Psychological precision, and therefore a deep understanding of the underlying message of these varying characteristics, lies at the heart of cabaret’s theatrical/musical art. Haan proves to have both, the charm to make it amusing, and the conceptual flexibility to bring this music to life, making the audience laugh and sob, and perhaps even igniting a curiosity in her audience to explore this repertoire further – an inspiration with the potential to transform.

Photo: With German UN Ambassador Harald Braun (left) and Austrian UN Ambassador Martin Sajdik (right) at Café Sabarsky.

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