shows: Love, lan­guate and Ute Lem­per

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

SHE’S Ger­man, lives in New York and is com­ing to Aus­tralia to sing in Span­ish, French and English the love po­ems of a great Chilean writer.

Ute Lem­per is liv­ing tes­ti­mony to the fact that art knows no national bound­aries.

The cabaret star has just fin­ished her lat­est CD, Ute Lem­per Sings Pablo Neruda, which sets her mu­sic to 12 love po­ems penned by the poet who re­ceived the 1971 No­bel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture.

Lem­per says she’s look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing Aus­tralia again for a per­for­mance of a song cy­cle of the love po­ems, fol­lowed by cabaret favourites from her long ca­reer, in­clud­ing a show at QPAC as part of the Bris­bane Fes­ti­val.

The 50-year-old’s im­pres­sive CV cov­ers roles in mu­si­cals in­clud­ing Chicago, Cats and Cabaret and famed in­ter­pre­ta­tions of works by Ber­tolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, Mar­lene Di­et­rich and Edith Piaf.

Other projects in­cluded Ul­timo Tango and The Pun­ish­ing Kiss, fea­tur­ing songs writ­ten by Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello.

Now she has moved on to Neruda, a pro­lific poet, diplo­mat and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist who trav­elled ex­ten­sively in­clud­ing time spent in forced ex­ile.

Lem­per trawled through his po­ems, find­ing his po­lit­i­cal works too wordy, too com­pli­cated and too se­ri­ous to put into mu­sic.

‘‘I didn’t want to find a ba­nal el­e­ment of mu­sic in it, in some­thing that was so pro­found – an out­cry of the op­pres­sion he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in his coun­try,’’ she says. In­stead, she se­lected a dozen love po­ems. ‘‘I chose the short ones, the ones that are very sen­sual, the ones that have an im­me­di­ate melodic rhythm to them, a rhythm to the word.’’

Lem­per, who col­lab­o­rated with ban­do­neon­ist and com­poser Marcelo Nis­in­man, sings half of them in Span­ish, while the other half is in English and French.

She’ll per­form with five mu­si­cians – vi­o­lin, ban­do­neon, gui­tar, bass and pi­ano – and as­sures Aus­tralian au­di­ences the po­etry will be trans­lated into English in the con­cert pro­gram.

Lem­per speaks English, French and Ger­man flu­ently, as well as some Span­ish and Ital­ian. While grow­ing up in Ger­many, she learnt very bad schoolgirl English and French and didn’t hone her lan­guage skills un­til she lived in Paris, then moved to the US.

‘‘Learn­ing lan­guages just hap­pened through life, if you want to speak them, you have to dig in.

‘‘I’m now try­ing to speak flu­ent Span­ish, but I’m a lit­tle older now and have prob­lems with that. My brain doesn’t seem to do it any more.’’

Lem­per has also writ­ten mu­sic to the po­ems of lit­er­ary out­sider Charles Bukowski, a pro­ject and per­for­mance she de­scribes as ‘‘pretty wild’’.

Ute Lem­per sings Pablo Neruda plays the Con­cert Hall, at QPAC, in Bris­bane, to­mor­row at 8pm. The Bris­bane Fes­ti­val con­tin­ues un­til Septem­ber 28. Visit bris­bane­fes­ti­ for the full pro­gram.

Ger­man cabaret star Ute Lem­per

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