Interview: Max Raabe

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  March 2, 2010

How did you come by your deadpan stage presence?
[Laughs] That is my kind of humor. Less is more. I don't want to bother the audience with my own interpretation. Everybody knows what it is to fall in love, or to say goodbye. You don't have to explain these great human feelings to an audience. When I am singing about the stars and the sun above, I don't have to show where the sun is shining and where the stars are hanging. I just put everything into my voice and nothing more.

Berlin has a tradition of nonsense songs, like "Mein Gorilla Hat 'ne Villa im Zoo" ["My Gorilla Has a Villa in the Zoo"].
Well, in our concerts now we have half English songs and half German songs. We have a few crazy songs from the '20s from Germany. For example, a song called "Rosa, reizende Rosa" — "Rosa, Wonderful Rosa." The main line is "Last summer, my heart was under great duress/When I saw Rosa in her swimming dress." Of course, we have some more-sophisticated songs. But these funny songs and nonsense songs were always part of our program. So it goes from that song to Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht — we have everything in between. It was so crazy in the '20s, in the Weimar Republic. Everything was so open-minded and wide, and that is why I love that period so much.

Do you know that you'll be playing in an old Boston movie theater that's just been reopened?
No, I didn't know that.

The Paramount goes back to 1932 — just your time period — but it hasn't been in use since 1976. You'll be the first act to play it.
It must be a nice theater. We lost so many wonderful theaters in Germany, in Berlin, of course, because of the war. That's the way it is. But here in Portland yesterday evening, we had a wonderful theater, from the 1920s, with chandeliers. It's very bombastic, a great, wonderful theater. Oh, I am looking forward to this.

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