Rendezvous with Marlene
Mixed Media Client Since 2020
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 Marlene’s 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.
Ute Lemper Rendezvous with Marlene is “An unforgettable evening: stylish, graceful, heart-warming and powerful, this is an event not to be missed,” says Shane Morgan of St. George’s Bristol, UK.
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: “An extraordinary, unforgettable evening with a sublime artist at the height of her powers – it should on no account be missed!” (Musical Theatre Review)
“A superb tribute to one astonishing woman from another, fascinating, enlightening, intense, often moving, and always entertaining,” according to 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 I’ve ever seen. Ute – like Bowie, Callas, and Garland before her – is in an unprecedented class of her own.”
Ute Lemper – Rendezvous with Marlene
The history of this album takes us back more than thirty years to 1988. It was then that a three-hour telephone conversation took place in Paris between two German women, two Actresses and singers, Marlene Dietrich and Ute Lemper. Some of our readers do not need to explain who they are, but for the rest, especially the young ones, we will have to tell them…
So, Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992). A sex symbol of her era, a great actress and singer. Her fame rose in the 20s, in the film “Blue angel”, which brought her unprecedented success not only at home, but also far beyond its borders. After moving to Hollywood, she quickly became a star there. The Nazis who came to power in Germany promised Marlene all imaginable benefits for her return. But Marlene Dietrich was sharply negative about Hitler and his brown pack. She defiantly renounced her German citizenship and accepted US citizenship. During the war, she often performed in front of allied soldiers in Europe. Someone pointed out that Dietrich was more often on the front line than Eisenhower. After the collapse of Nazism, she continued her brilliant career. In 1960, she arrived in her native Berlin, where she was obstructed, considered a traitor. After a while, Marlene settled in Paris. After an unfortunate fall from the stage in 1975, she could only walk with a stick – and did not want to be seen like this. Then she lived as a recluse in Paris, not communicating with anyone, her relationship with her daughter was very difficult, in the past there were stormy romances with world celebrities, in the past there was fame.
This is what Marlene called Ute Lemper (b.1963) in 1988. Starting with performances with a jazz-rock band, she turned into a musical and cabaret star by the age of 25-just like Dietrich once did. In 1988, in Paris, she was awarded the prestigious Moliere Prize for playing and singing in the musical “Cabaret”. That’s when she sent the card to Dietrich. A miracle happened: she suddenly agreed to talk to Ute on the phone. For three long hours, Marlene told her young companion many secrets of her personal and creative life. Ute was lucky: the stars came together and the great diva wanted to pour out her soul.
Many years later, in 2019, the already very famous Lemper put this conversation at the heart of her show Rendezvous with Marlene, where she tells the story of the life of Marlene Dietrich from the stage and sings songs from her repertoire. The audio album Rendezvous with Marlene is a kind of soundtrack of a very successful show, met with the most positive responses around the world. Like Dietrich, Lemper sings here in three languages-German, English and French, and sings with a very precise balance between Dietrich’s characteristic singing style and the danger of “playing too much” in imitation of her unique husky contralto. Here you can hear songs from the time of Dietrich’s success in Weimar Germany – the world-famous Lili Marlen, songs by her favorite composer Friedrich Holender, who, like her favorite Director von Sternberg, had to flee from the persecution of the Nazis, – Wenn Ich mir wunschen durfte, Ruins Of Berlin, sound jazz standards Mercer (One For My Baby, When The Workd Was Young) and porter (the Laziest Gal In Town) times of successful collaboration with Bert Bacharach, songs of great American folk singers Pete Seeger (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan (Blowing In the Wind), beautiful French songs, for example, Marie Marie Gilbert BECO. In short, this is a stunning excursion into the popular music of the twentieth century, which was loved and sung by the great Marlene Dietrich.
© 2020 Jazzhaus Records
20 tks / 74 mins
Link provided by Mixed Media
author Leonid AUSKERN
musical style crossover