Operetta Research Center
21 January, 2014
Needless to say, German operetta fans already know her: the actress Dagmar Manzel dazzled audiences at Berlin’s Deutsches Schauspielhaus years ago with a superb Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, a performance that was truly one of a kind, and quite beyond anything you’re likely to see (or hear) in an opera house. It made Manzel an instant operetta sensation in critical circles. As a consequence, she was offered more and more operetta and musical theatre roles, La Périchole among them, then Miss Lovett in Sweeney Todd. When she sang Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate, she became the unquestioned superstar of the Komische Oper Berlin, where she also dazzled audiences with Kurt Weill recitals and, of course, her portrayal of Madeleine de Faublas in Paul Abraham’s jazzy Ball im Savoy – which was broadcast in TV and will hopefully find its way onto DVD.
It was probably only a matter of time until the “movers and shakers” at Universal Classic noticed Manzel and her individual singing/acting talent. They signed her up for Deutsche Grammophon, and with that exclusive label Manzel will release her first album on February 14: a Valentine’s Day special, you could say. It’s a disc entitled MENSCHENsKIND, devoted to the music of Friedrich Holländer, son of the famed operetta composer Victor Holländer (Der Bey von Marokko, Die Prinzessin vom Nil) who also wrote even more famous revues (Auf ins Metropol!). Holländer Jr. made his name composing some of the most famous chansons in the German language, among them various Marlene Dietrich classics such as “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt” (“Falling In Love Again”) and the legendary “Black Market” about post-war Berlin. Holländer Jr. also wrote many chansons for cabaret stars like Blandine Ebinger who excelled in bringing out the grotesque quality in this repertoire.
On her new disc, Dagmar Manzel offers 19 tracks that range from Dietrich-evergreens such as “Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte” and “The Ruins of Berlin” to cheeky Ebinger classics like “Die Kleptomanin”. And: a Rudolf Nelson number called “Das Nachtgespenst”.
Adopting a more “easy listening” style for her interpretation, Manzel is accompanied by the orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin, and by Michael Abramovich at the piano. In contrast to her recent Werner Richard Heymann album, she offers less ‘classical’ singing (which others can do better anyway) but more of a “diseuse” approach. In short: it’s a must have for all fans of Manzel and Weimar Republic cabaret repertoire. It’s also an interesting modern alternative to recordings by Ute Lemper, another star performer who in the recent past successfully sang this repertoire – in a much more over the top way, incidentally, which is attractive as a comparison.
Coinciding with the release of the CD, there will be concerts at the Komische Oper on February 7, 28 and also in March and May. She will also tour through Germany with this program. A welcome addition to the catalogue. And hopefully, Deutsche Grammophon will also record Manzel in some of the operetta roles from that era too…. (How about a Victor Holländer disc?)
MENSCHENsKIND: DAGMAR MANZEL sings Friedrich Hollaender
Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin
0289 479 2328 2 CD DDD GH