Cabaret star Ute Lemper recreates the decadent days of the Weimar Republic at the Bury Festival

Ute Lemper who is bringing her cabaret showcase to The Bury Festival. Photo: Bury Festival

Ute Lemper who is bringing her cabaret showcase to The Bury Festival. Photo: Bury Festival - Credit: Archant

The richly decadent world of 1920s Berlin and Paris is being revisited in a new show by cabaret star Ute Lemper. Nicki Dixon spoke to her ahead of her Bury Festival appearance

Ute Lemper

Ute Lemper - Credit: Archant

The sounds of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht as well as the chansons of Edit Piaf and Marlene Dietrich come in one complete package in the shape of Ute Lemper.

She has, she said, always considered music to be her best friend, and is renowned the world over for her singing and acting, particularly her interpretation of the works of Weill.

Ute brings her unique repertoire to this year’s Bury Festival. Her show, Last Tango in Berlin – The Best of Ute, echoes yesteryear taking the audience on a musical journey to the atmospheric world of the cabaret club.

That journey starts in Berlin with Ute’s root repertoire of Brecht and Weill and the Berlin cabaret songs, continuing into the poetic French chansons by Brel, Piaf, Ferre and further to the Argentinian world of Tango by Astor Piazzolla.

Ute musically strolls through the backstreets of Paris, Berlin, New York and Buenos Aires and lets the music tell the stories of the lost, of love, survival, passion, dreams, societies, the past and the future.

She said: “Last Tango in Berlin is a journey through time, in the final years of the Weimar Republic.

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“The last breath of this revolutionary culture, the Last Tango, symbolically speaking in 1928, the Three Penny Opera, The Blue Angel, the Political Cabaret, all before the Nazis came and shattered everything.”

She said the journey of her show continues through the French repertoire of the post war years, some Astor Piazzolla of Buenos Aires and then back to Berlin.

“It is a path through my life as much as anything through history. My incredible years in Berlin in the 1980s, my many years in Paris where I fell in love with the Chansons Francaises and my 20 years in New York now, an inspiration for all kinds of music.

“I always stay faithful somehow, though to the German story which is the Jewish emigration, the escape from the Nazis and the search for a new world and identity.”

She compared to the story she tells with the world today.

“In our unbalanced world today, this story still speaks as an exemplary refugee story of past and present, our world where millions of people still grow up without the privilege of freedom of expression and peace, without the right to education and simple human dignity.

“This concert explores survivors and societies, a dance on a volcano.”

She has been performing since the mid 1980s and her stage work has won her awards.

She played Sally Bowles in the original Paris production of Cabaret for which she won the 1987 Moliere Award for Best Newcomer.

A year later she won the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Velma Kelly in both the London and New York productions of Chicago.

Her busy life as a performer takes her all over the world and she is currently presenting many different programmes including Songs For Eternity which explores songs written in the ghettos in the early 1940s and her new programme called Rendezvous with Marlene, exploring the life of Marlene Dietrich.

Ute puts the secret of the longevity of her music by inventing new projects.

“The secret is I live with my career in a niche of an historical, classic but timeless repertoire.

“I also keep my audience interested as I invent new projects which are often challenging.”

When she is not performing, Ute’s tastes in the music she listens to ranges from Amy Winehouse to Nina Simone, Miles Davies to Mahler.

• Last Tango in Berlin – The Best of Ute is at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds as part of the Bury Festival on Thursday May 24 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the festival website at

For more on Ute visit her website at