Cabaret sensation Ute Lemper to sing at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Image: Ute Lemper

Ute Lemper, hailed by many as the greatest cabaret singer in the world today, will bring "All That Jazz!" an evening of sultry, timeless music, to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 3, at 8 p.m.

Born in Germany and fond of the music of the Weimar Republic, Lemper is often heralded as a modern-day Marlene Dietrich. She has received worldwide acclaim both for her unique voice and intuitive interpretations in solo shows and smash recordings, as well as a long-running stint as vixen Velma Kelly in Broadway's revival of "Chicago." Her dramatic flair and dark sense of humor mix seamlessly with the works of such varied composers as Kurt Weill and Tom Waits, setting her in a class by herself.

"The world of cabaret can be divided into two distinct categories: Ute Lemper and everyone else," raved Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune. "The luscious timbre of her voice, the breadth of her repertoire, the expressive power of her body language and the sheer force of her personality place Lemper at the pinnacle of a cabaret tradition that has been evolving for more than a century."

Ute Lemper was born in Munster, Germany, and fed her dramatic appetite early with studies at The Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna. She had her professional debut in that storied city, performing the roles of Grizabella and Bombalurina in the Vienna production of "Cats." From there, she played the title role in "Peter Pan" in Berlin and was Sally Bowles in Jerome Savary's "Cabaret" in Paris, a role for which she won the Moliere Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Lemper's early solo performances often revolved around a German repertoire from the heyday of cabaret composing between the two world wars. She is considered one of the premiere interpreters of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's seminal work and she's presented evenings of cabaret at such vaunted venues as La Scala, Piccolo Teatro in Milan, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Alice Tully Hall in New York City and Palao de la Musica in Barcelona.

Lemper also loves company. Her symphony concerts include "The Seven Deadly Sins" and "Songs from Piaf and Dietrich," which she has performed with the London Philharmonic with conductor Kent Nagano, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra with John Mauceri.

Lemper's recordings show her love of the sometimes brazen, sometimes melancholy mood of the cabaret and the French chanson of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. Some of her best-loved titles include "Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill, Vols. I and II," "Berlin Cabaret Songs," and her take on "Three Penny Opera."

Lemper herself admits to an affinity for the dark underpinnings and bold, bawdy mindset of the early composers.

"Kurt Weill's music is gorgeous and Brecht's political lyrics have a base, low-life vocabulary that I adore," she told the Ottawa Sunday Sun.

But she has been known to branch out, most recently in a 2000 recording entitled "Punishing Kiss," which included new and little-known songs by Waits, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Philip Glass and others. The songs, while thoroughly modern, lend themselves nicely to her theatrical stage presence. A consummate performer, she can alternate between the agonizing strains of a haunting ballad and a steamy, sexy tune that has her prowling the stage with equal conviction and verve.

"Lemper didn't simply reel off lyrics," Reich wrote of a Chicago performance. "Throughout she moved like a dancer, swore like a sailor and sang like a dream."

Lemper often makes use of her considerable theatrical talents, most notably as Velma in "Chicago." In 1998, she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the London production and, after a nine month run there, she made her Broadway debut in September 1998. A major highlight of her eight-month American engagement was starring with Chita Rivera in the Las Vegas premiere in March 1999.

She has also appeared in numerous films and television shows, including "Moscow Parade," "L'Autrichienne," "Prospero's Books," Robert Altman's "Pret a Porter," Roger Waters' "The Wall" and Norman Jewison's "Bogus."

In 2003, Lemper toured Europe and worked on a new recording, which includes several of her own compositions. She lives in New York City with her two children.

Tickets are $40, $45 and $50. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website www.quickcenter.com. Media inquiries should be made to Dana Ambrosini, Fairfield University's assistant director of media relations, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 10, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 219