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Pacific Symphony is joined by beguiling German theater star Ute Lemper for "Come to the Cabaret," the first "Music Unwound" concert of 2012-13 season, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair

October 26, 2012

Concerts on Nov. 8-10 feature Gershwin's "An American in Paris," Kurt Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins" and four songs made famous by Édith Piaf including "La Vie en Rose"

Classical Connections on Nov. 11: "An American in Paris and More," explores Gershwin's orchestral work, plus Lemper sings "I Got Rhythm/Naughty Baby" and songs by Piaf

Pacific Symphony welcomes the illustrious German chanteuse, Ute Lemper, for "Come to the Cabaret," a revival of the seductive and sophisticated music that was heard in intimate, smoke-filled nightclubs across Germany, France and America during the 1920s and '30s. Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the orchestra opens with Kurt Weill's entertaining social satire, "The Seven Deadly Sins," performed with Lemper, who is widely acknowledged as the ultimate interpreter of Weill and European cabaret, and the evocative vocal quartet Hudson Shad. After intermission, the orchestra performs Gershwin's "An American in Paris," a rhapsodic expression of a man's love for a city and life itself. Then Lemper, who is also known for her roles on Broadway as Velma Kelly in "Chicago" and Sally Bowles in "Cabaret," sings a hybrid arrangement of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm/Naughty Baby," followed by four songs made famous by the legendary French singer Edith Piaf: "Padam Padam," "Ne Me Quitte Pas," "L'Accordéoniste" and "La Vie en Rose."

"The beauty of Ms. Lemper's talent...is that no translation is required. She doesn't just sing these songs, she performs them. The expressions on her face and the way in which she moves her body tell us all we need to know."— Los Angeles magazine "Come to the Cabaret," takes place Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 8-10, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, when the lobby transforms into a "piano bar" from 7-8 p.m and during intermission. A preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$112.

Classical Connections, "An American in Paris and More," takes place Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. and features Gershwin's orchestral work and Lemper singing the arrangement of "I Got Rhythm/Naughty Baby" and four songs by Piaf, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair. Tickets for this concert are $25-$95. For more information about any of these concerts or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.

"For the Music Unwound program, we have curated a combination of very unique musical experiences," says Maestro St.Clair. "The program begins with a 45-minute one-act opera by Kurt Weill. After intermission, we have an 18-minute orchestral work and songs by Gershwin, and we conclude the program with some very popular French songs made famous by Édith Piaf sung by Ute Lemper. We are providing the audience with a menu of wonderful music, each different and unique in its own right."

Now entering its fourth season, Music Unwound is a series of three concerts, underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that bring innovative new formats and thematic programming to the concert experience. By creating contextual backdrops, the Symphony endeavors to give the music deeper meaning. Other Music Unwound concerts in the 2012-13 season include "Mozart's Requiem" (Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2013) and "Stravinsky's Rite of Spring Turns 100" (June 6-8, 2013).

"The Seven Deadly Sins" is a ballet chanté (sung ballet) written as a collaboration by German composer Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht, as a satire against American-style capitalism. It follows two characters, Anna I and Anna II, on their journey to find their fortunes in cities across America.

"To further the opera-vocal initiative that we launched last year with Puccini's 'La Bohéme,' I wanted to do a small opera during the first half of our season (in addition to Puccini's 'Tosca' in February), and Kurt Weill's 'The Seven Deadly Sins' came to mind," says St.Clair. "It is tremendously entertaining and interesting, politically and otherwise. Each of the seven deadly sins is musically explored throughout the opera, and the music is quite beautiful, but it makes you think.

"After intermission, the orchestra and I are going to perform 'An American in Paris,' one of George Gershwin's most famous orchestral works," continues St.Clair. "Of course, it is about a young man, presumably George Gershwin, who is in Paris, and he is reacting musically to all of the sounds—the horns, the street scenes, the hustle and bustle of Paris in the 1920s—and at one point he gets a little homesick, and we know this because we hear blues, which is not yet that prominent in Paris. But at the end of this work, the sounds of Paris overwhelm him again, and he is very delighted that he is in the great city of lights."

Following "An American in Paris," is an original arrangement of "I Got Rhythm" and "Naughty Baby," sung by Lemper. Then four songs by Piaf tell the joys and sorrows of Parisian love.

"In recent years, Ute Lemper has become our version of Édith Piaf," says St.Clair. "Piaf, as we know, was the French international star who sang many songs that we are familiar with and love, such as "La Vie en Rose," and so many of the great ballads. Ute Lemper has just that type of voice, charisma and stage presence, and will help transform the concert hall into a cabaret atmosphere throughout the evening."

Lemper has made her mark on the stage, in films, in concert and as a unique recording artist. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin cabaret songs, the works of Weill and Brecht and the French chanson as well as her portrayals on Broadway, in Paris and in London's West End. Born in Munster, Germany, Lemper completed her studies at the Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna. Her professional debut was in the original Vienna production of "Cats" in the roles of Grizabella and Bombalurina. She went on to play Peter Pan in "Peter Pan" (Berlin) and Sally Bowles in Jerome Savary's "Cabaret," (Paris) for which she received the Molière Award for best actress in a musical. She played Lola in "The Blue Angel" (Berlin) and Maurice Bejart created a ballet for her, "La Mort Subite" (Paris). Lemper also appeared in many Weill revues with the Pina Bausch Tanztheater, and she created the part of Velma Kelly in London's production of "Chicago" in the West End, for which she was honored with the Laurence Olivier Award, and moved to the Broadway production after one year.

Hudson Shad's first performance of "The Family" in Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins" was at St. Ann's School in New York City in 1989. Since this initial performance, they have performed Weill's piece in over 30 different productions, numbering more than 100 performances worldwide, including with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien, National Symphony Orchestra (Ottawa) and Orchestra Regionale di Toscana. The members of Hudson Shad performing in these concerts are: Mark Bleeke, tenor; Eric Edlund, baritone; Peter Becker, bass/baritone; and Wilbur Pauley, bass.

The Symphony's Classical series performances are made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation, with additional support from American Airlines, The Westin South Coast Plaza, KUSC and PBS SoCal. Classical Connections receives support from KPCC.