“They know my voice, my legs, my movies but they don’t know me… “
– Marlene Dietrich

Publication: Theatre Vibe
Date: 18th November 2020

Ute Lemper is the remarkable looking woman with the longest of fishnet clad legs who, as Velma Kelly,  looked down on us from the poster for Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.  This film was made in New York at Alan Cumming’s club and is about Marlene Dietrich.  She too had famous legs although one director said her legs weren’t that great but she knew how to use them.

I saw Dietrich once as a part of the Official Festival in Edinburgh and although that is more than half a century ago I remember her impressive and iconic stage presence, wearing this shimmering, full length pink gown and singing, Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” partially in German.

This show is based on Ute Lemper’s three hour telephone conversation with Dietrich in 1987 after Lemper had been hailed in Paris as the new Marlene.  Lemper played Sally Bowles in Cabaret in Paris and later in 1992, was cast as Lola in a musical version of The Blue Angel, the part that launched Dietrich’s international film career in 1930.  So the show combines Dietrich’s famous songs with biographical snippets about her life.

You will hear the most famous “Lili Marleen” with all its variant spellings. Dietrich was named Marie Magdalene by her parents which she shortened to Marlene.  Five songs by Friedrich Hollaender feature including “They Call Me Naughty Lola”, “Boys in the Backroom” and “Fallin in Love Again”.   The Jacques Brel song “Ne Me Quitte Pas” which she sings about the love of her life the French actor and singer Jean Gabin.

The show switches between Lemper as Dietrich and Lemper as herself the shy ingenue talking on the telephone to the famous diva. Lemper has great presence, starting this show singing in a bar with faint rear projections of photographs of the day, newspaper headlines about Dietrich and the Hollywood Era which Dietrich stayed in, away from Germany, which saw Hitler’s rise to power.  Her husky vocals recreate Dietrich’s songbook and she has a striking physical resemblance to the blonde haired, high cheekboned, fine eyebrowed star.

As Dietrich she recalls life pre-Hitler under the Weimar republic and the freedom it gave her and reminisces how all that liberation was lost.  When she returns in the 1960s to Germany, “they hated me!” she is met with shouts of “Marlene Go Home”, and “Traitor of the Fatherland” and people letting off stink bombs.  She had joined the American army and sung for GI troops in battlefield area,s of course with great personal danger to herself if she had been captured.  Although she said then, they didn’t know the full horrors of the concentration camps she would have been destined for one if taken.  She was given awards, in France the Legion d’honneur and others by the Allies.

We hear about Dietrich’s famous list of lovers, possibly more than Messalina, a list of whom reads like the Hollywood’s Whos Who of the day, from John Wayne through Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn to Edith Piaf.  About Billy Wilder she said he wasn’t such a great lover but a fabulous director!  His 1948 film A Foreign Affair showed the damage to Berlin by Allied bombers and that footage is used as Dietrich talks about the shock looking at the ruins.  Wilder said Dietrich knew about film lighting so as to highlight her wonderful bone structure.

Lemper as Dietrich sings Harold Arlen’s song “One for my Baby (and One More for the Road)”  with a cigarette to hand and a glass of alcohol.  Often she’ll wear a top hat or trousers and talk about her masculine, feminine, androgynous style and with a cigarette hanging from her generous, lipsticked mouth. She switches between English and German often in her cups.

She recalls making Frenzy with Alfred Hitchcock and asking for a gown by Christian Dior which Hitchcock said the budget wouldn’t stretch to.  She replied, “No Dior. No Dietrich!”  She got the Dior outfit.

Get your Martini glasses out and your feather boa to view this show to recreate the dizzying heights of Thirties hedonism with iconic, jazzy tunes and sumptuous lyrics evocatively sung by Ute Lemper.

Click here to read the full online review with song list, band details and more.

“Dear friends,

I am so glad that we are able to post my Rendezvous with Marlene again for streaming.

After receiving many calls to re-stream the event, we now did some wonderful re-edits and post-production to make it even more magical.

I am so happy to see you all again and stay in touch in the midst of this time out.

Miss you all and much love,

Click here to select your tickets to view the re-stream.

Publication: Süddeutsche Zeitung
Date: 19 April, 2020

Dessau-Roßlau/New York (dpa) – In Gedenken an die Befreiung der deutschen Konzentrationslager vor 75 Jahren gibt die international bekannte Musicalsängerin Ute Lemper am Dienstag ein Online-Konzert aus ihrem New Yorker Wohnzimmer. Das teilte am Sonntag das Kurt Weill Fest mit, das das Konzert am Dienstag (20.00 Uhr) auf seiner Facebook-Seite überträgt. Lemper werde bei dem Auftritt “Lieder der Rebellion, der Hoffnung und des Widerstands, die alle während des Holocausts geschrieben wurden” singen.

Der Auftritt ist Teil einer Konzertreihe der Carnegie Hall in New York, die für die Übertragung nach Europa mit dem Kurt Weill Fest kooperiert. Das Kurt Weill Fest musste in diesem Jahr wegen der Corona-Krise abgebrochen werden. Im vorigen Jahr hatte Lemper an dem 1990 ins Leben gerufenen jährlichen Festival zu Ehren des berühmten Komponisten teilgenommen. Kurt Weills Leben ist untrennbar mit dem Holocaust und den beiden Städten Dessau und New York verbunden: Er wurde 1900 in Dessau als Sohn eines jüdischen Kantors geboren.

Nach Regierungsantritt der Nazis floh er über Berlin und Paris in die USA. Am New Yorker Broadway wurde Weill mit seiner Musik zum Star. Er starb 1950 in New York. Auch Lemper spielte an der weltbekannten Musical-Meile in New York.

Festival-Intendant Jan Henric Bogen dankte Lemper und der Carnegie Hall für die gemeinsame Veranstaltung. “Es ist wunderbar, dass wir in diesen unsicheren Zeiten unserem Publikum etwas Trost und Zerstreuung durch Musik spenden können”, sagte Bogen. “Und wir freuen uns umso mehr darauf, wenn Musik-Erleben auch wieder gemeinsam im Konzertsaal möglich sein wird.”

Click here to read the article at Süddeutsche Zeitung online

On April 21 at 2.00pm EST (USA), as part of the Carnegie Hall Live Streaming series, there will be a livestream performance and program from Ute’s living room.

In advance of her concert in April 2021 as part of the Voices of Hope: Artists in Times of Oppression festival, chanteuse Ute Lemper honors the 75th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps with songs of rebellion, hope, defiance, and life-affirming resilience written during the Holocaust.

Accompanying Ute for this live performance of excerpts from Songs for Eternity, will be Vana Gierig on Piano and Max Lemper on guitar. This performance will commemorate the Holocaust and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Bergen Belsen, and Ute will have a live conversation on Zoom with Orly Beigel in Mexico City, whose mother survived Bergen Belsen by being on the Death Train at Farsleben, that was liberated by the American Army on April 13th 1945.

Here are some related links:
Click here to RSVP on Facebook and get details on how to view the performance
A press article from Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung promoting the performance
Click here
to read more about the Death Train.