Publication: New Jersey Jazz Society
Reviewer: Joe Lang

When she received much acclaim for her 1988 performance in the Paris staging of Cabaret, including some comparisons to Marlene Dietrich, German actress/singer UTE LEMPER felt embarrassed by this, and wrote a note to Dietrich apologizing for the comparison.  She received a phone call from Dietrich in return, and during their lengthy conversation, Dietrich recalled much of what had occurred in her life.  It was an occasion of great significance for Lemper.  A few years ago, Lemper created Rendezvous With Marlene (Jazzhaus – 184). This show, originally done as a cabaret performance, provided an overview of Dietrich’s life and career, with Lemper performing 20 songs associated with Dietrich.  I saw the show at the York Theater last year and greatly enjoyed it.  Lemper does an effective job of capturing the Dietrich persona, but also brings much of her own performing personality to the production.  She is an accomplished actress and singer, who moves easily between being herself and channeling Dietrich.  The recording contains only the musical portion of the show, but stands nicely on its own.  (

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Ute Lemper Channels Dietrich on Rendezvous with Marlene

It takes a kind of fearlessness to address the mythical talent of superstar Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich’s stardom is legendary; her story a picaresque of adventure, fantasy, imagination, and coveted reality. Yet, if anyone can begin to touch Dietrich’s transcendent nature, to tell her story, it would have to be Berlin-born, New York-based Ute Lemper.

Lemper, a multi-talented musical theater and cabaret star, has lit up stages—acting, singing, dancing, writing, even painting—since the early ’80s. She began with Chekhov and Weill, among others, making a name for herself as an outsized talent.

But it was as a songstress, particularly as an exponent of the music of the Weimar Republic, that Lemper made her most lasting impact. She brings immense theatricality to her music, along with irony, sexuality, satire, and humor. She received a tremendous amount of attention for her dramatic cabaret-style performances and was heralded as the New Dietrich.” In 1988, after receiving a Moliére Award for her performance in “Cabaret” in Paris, Ute sent a note to Dietrich, essentially apologizing for all the comparisons. I explained to her that I was just starting my career and that the comparisons were inappropriate,” said Lemper. I thanked her for inspiring me to become a performer and mentioned how much I admired her many achievements on stage and screen.”

A month later, Dietrich, then in her late 80s, called Lemper. Dietrich was a recluse by that time and had not left her Paris home for many years. But she and Lemper connected and the discussion was incredibly rich and profound. She told me everything about her life–emotional and historical—and I was very overwhelmed by it all,” said Lemper. It took me thirty years to think about it and finally be ready to put it into a show.” The three-hour conversation the two had discussing Dietrich’s fascinating life, forms the foundation of Rendezvous with Marlene, a lavish, lovable homage to the great performer. It began as a performance, and is now a spectacular recording of the same name.

Ute sings to us Marlenes story, fabulous songs from all the chapters of her life, from the Berlin cabaret years to her Burt Bacharach collaborations, with whom Dietrich toured for 15 years. Lemper puts her own spin on the material, injects them with modern drama, melodrama, and unfiltered flourishes of Dietrich’s sensuality.

Rendezvous with Marlene is a story that makes no attempt to gloss over or ignore the rise to power of Hitler and the German Nazi Party … It is clear that Ute is both following in Marlenes footsteps, and the very traditions of German cabaret itself, to constantly challenge those in authority and hold them accountable for their actions,” says Tom King of Edinburgh’s Southside Advertiser.

Essentially, Rendezvous with Marlene is the sound of one enormous talent passing her story along to another. And while we don’t know what motivated Dietrich to transfer her life story to Lemper, she most certainly sensed they were kindred spirits. You don’t have to listen long to the many lush tracks on Rendezvous with Marlene to understand that the two possess a simpatico life, sharing a kind of distinct versatility, attitude, humor, and multi-faceted approach to art. One critic raved: A superb tribute to one astonishing woman from another, fascinating, enlightening, intense, often moving, and always entertaining.” (Northern Soul)

“What a gift it was to hear Marlene talk about her life,” says Lemper. “This recording is my personal tribute to her. She was sexy, tough, and funny and her comic timing was ever-present, even in her singing,” said Lemper. She was a free spirit,” Lemper recalls. She was politically and morally outspoken and courageous. She was ladylike and bossy. She had class but loved whiskey, dirty jokes, and a good smoke. I tell her story through my eyes and sing her songs with my voice. She is using my body and voice to speak.”

Successfully. Says a critic writing for Gay UK, “By a huge margin the finest act of sustained, emotional intensity and fearless self-revelation Ive ever seen. Ute – like Bowie, Callas and Garland before her – is in an unprecedented class of her own.”

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14.02.2020,Zagreb,KD Lisinski – Koncert kabaret dive Ute Lemper i zagrebackog filharmonijskog orkestra pod dirigentom Robertom Farkasem.
Photo: Jurica Galoic/PIXSELL

Date: February 14, 2020

Svakom svojom gestom, svakom izvedbom, jedinstvenim načinom na koji je, ovoga petka 14.2. u Off ciklusu Zagrebačke filharmonije, vodila publiku kroz svoje uzbudljive i privlačne, bogate i raznolike umjetničke svjetove, Ute Lemper opravdala je naslov koncerta i potvrdila da je umjetnica svjetskoga sjaja.

Bila je jednostavno – diva!

14.02.2020,Zagreb,KD Lisinski – Koncert kabaret dive Ute Lemper i zagrebackog filharmonijskog orkestra pod dirigentom Robertom Farkasem.
Photo: Jurica Galoic/PIXSELL

Osvojila je pozornicu i pomela sve pred sobom, svojom pojavom, scenskim nastupom, savršenom dikcijom, bijelom i crvenom toaletom koje je zamijenila na polovici koncerta, svojim prvorazrednim umijećem glume, pjeva i pokreta kojim je prelazila s pjesme na pjesmu, iz žanra u žanr, stvarajući čaroliju glazbenog teatra, onakvu kakvu mogu stvoriti samo najveći.

A Ute Lemper jedna je od njih!

Izborom programa, kao i konferansom između pojedinih brojeva, provela je publiku Off ciklusaglazbenim centrima svijeta, od newyorškoga Broadwaya do berlinskog kabareta i od londonskoga West Enda do pariškog Montmartrea. Bilo je to putovanje kroz njezinu vlastitu karijeru i prošlost, ali i kroz karijere velikih umjetnika s kojima su je dovodili u vezu, s kojima je bila u kontaktu ili im se i sama divila.

Večer s daškom glamura nije prošla bez Marlene Dietrich, dive s kojom su je često uspoređivali, ali ni bez Edith Piaf, Jacquesa Brela, Boba Dylana, Kurta Weilla i mnogih drugih. Na ukusno osvijetljenoj sceni, uz Zagrebačku filharmoniju pod vodstvom maestra Roberta Farkasa, bila je to mala škola scenske umjetnosti i velika predstava života, koju nam je na dan zaljubljenih darovala Ute Lemper – jednostavno diva!

Putovanje s Ute zaključeno je dugim pljeskom i s čak dva dodatka, a ovosezonsko putovanje Off ciklusa nastavlja se uskoro, već 6.3. kada će u dvorani Lisinski nastupiti umjetnik kojega u Zagrebu ne treba posebno predstavljati, veliki slovenski kantautor Zoran Predin.

Koncert najavljuje kao jedan od vrhunaca svoje karijere, nazvao ga je, prigodno, “Počasni krug”, s nestrpljenjem ga iščekuje, stoga: Isključite probleme i 6.3. ponovno uključite glazbu.

Ne propustite Zorana Predina i Zagrebačku filharmoniju – samo u Off ciklusu!

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