Sultry and sexually provocative, Ute Lemper brings her uninhibited, musky Cabaret musical style to the Michigan Theatre on Friday for the University Musical Society. This concert date was rescheduled from Lemper”s December date, which was cancelled due to illness.
Strikingly dramatic, Lemper sings the works of Kurt Weill, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Philip Glass and others. She will perform songs from her new album, titled Punishing Kiss, with an accompaniment of five male musicians. Director Bruno Fontaine, will also play piano and keyboards. Bass, flute, guitar, violin and drums comprise the rest of the ensemble. This sampling of Lemper”s artistic repertoire will also mark the 100th centenary of the birth of Kurt Weill as well as the 50th anniversary of his death.
Born in Munster, Germany, Lemper was educated at the Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna. Her professional life is full of variety. She has appeared on stage in several productions, including the roles of Grizabella and Bombalurina in “Cats.” In “Blue Angel,” she appeared in the signature role of Lola. In film, she has worked for Robert Altman in “Pret a Porter,” and
“Tales from the Crypt.”
A woman who can surprise and shock, Ute Lemper”s myriad of other interests include painting and journalism. She has recently published her first book, “Non-Censure,” which is a semi-autobiographical satire presently available only in Germany and France. She currently lives in New York with her husband, comedian David Tabatsky, and their two children, Max and Stella.
Lemper sings music from the Weimar Republic of pre-World War II Germany. The songs are dark and politically aware, addressing issues of gender, censorship and sexuality. In 1930s Germany, these songs were labeled “degenerate art.” Yet, these songs with their themes of lost or broken love, truthfulness and the defenselessness of the human heart, are as timely today as they were in pre-WWII days. Her music transcends any barriers or borders of class, time or politics. However, with her cabaret songs, Lemper arrives at a full circle. She told David Mermelstein in a New York Times interview that she feels an affinity for Nazi-forbidden music because, “being German, I feel that this is really the right music for me to live in.”