Brigitte Heuser shares her love for Marlene Dietrich and Maria Callas | OUTInPerth
When singer Brigitte Heuser returned to Perth from Europe she started performing around town, people often asked her what kind of music she performed.
Having straddled the world of cabaret and opera, Heuser would offer the answer of “everything from Marlene to Maria” as he name-checks iconic German film star and cabaret artist Marlene Dietrich and legend of the Greek-American opera Maria Callas.
Her reference to the two singers got Heuser thinking about the parallels between the lives and careers of the two legendary singers, and from there, she created a new cabaret show that celebrates their lives and their music.
“It’s not about presenting a Wikipedia page, because people can read about these people online, but it’s me who intertwines the stories of their lives; and they had some similarities. They both lived for their art, they were icons, and they reach the heights, they are both absolute stars who had enormous legendary status. Heuser said of the thoughts behind the new show.
“I love the music of both, and I wanted to explore and see what songs I could do in a show and transition from one to the other, some of Marlene’s songs reflect very well what Callas would have felt in her life. private.”
While both artists reached the pinnacle of their respective professions, they both had enormous personal lives, albeit very different lives. While Maria Callas gave up her singing career for her lover Aristotle Onassis, she spent her last years being alone, Dietrich just worked and worked and would have had a flow of different lovers.
Both stars have been remembered in popular culture in different ways, Callas was captured in Terrence McNally’s play master class, while for many young people the most common reference they have to Marlene Dietrich is the tributes Madonna gave at her music concerts.
“In more diverse communities I would say Marlene is an icon and is better known, but in the wider, less cultured audience they don’t know that either. With my music I always like to bring something to people they’ve never seen before,” Heuser said.
The singer shared that she grew up in New Zealand in a family of German descent and because her father was a musician, she was exposed to many types of music.
“Opera and classical music and performance has always been on my mind, but for others it’s not, so you’re not expected to know anything about it. The kind of way I bring opera to cabaret is easy exposure, it’s not like going to a three-hour opera and having to read about it.
Heuser shared that she’s always intrigued by how people discover and fall in love with opera, and says most people don’t realize how much work they already know from advertising and movies.
While opera is often performed in large halls with an orchestra, Heuser says it also successfully transitions into the intimate world of cabaret.
“I do it with a pianist as opposed to an orchestra, but that’s taken out of context, we just do one tune, not the big numbers. Many operas, however, are written for smaller spaces, such as Baroque opera and even Mozart with a smaller orchestra. Even Wagner, and maybe some Verdi, where people expect massive sound and huge productions, which can be taken in a new context and presented in a smaller space and people will love it.
“People love it as a first experience because it’s actually more engaging, the walls are completely knocked down. There’s not a big orchestra pit and a huge auditorium, just you up there… at the end of the account, cabaret is about telling stories and I think opera translates very well.
Brigitte Heuser will perform Maria, Marlene and me June 23-24 as part of the Perth International Cabaret Festival. Tickets are on sale now.
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