Recognized as "Germany's last gentleman," Max Raabe will stage his first Shanghai concert with his Palast Orchestra tomorrow at the Shanghai Center Theater.
The slim man is famous for his ultra-smooth baritone voice singing German music from the between-the-wars period - the 1920s-30s. His ensemble, the Palast Orchestra, includes a gowned violinist and a row of chorus girls. They also sing some American hits in German like, Singing in the Rain.
Recently Raabe wrote a humorous song for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Germany.
"It took me only a little while to write the piece," says the 40-something gentleman. "I will sing the song with my band during the banquet before the opening ceremony which will attract football stars like Pele Eterno and Diego Armando Maradona."
Raabe's singing career began in a children's choir in a boarding school in East Westphalia. He moved to Berlin in 1984, where he had several non-musical jobs, but he also sang in small venues to finance his singing lessons.
Raabe studied opera at the University of Arts in Berlin for seven years when he specialized in baritone.
Although he has performed in concerts with famous orchestras, he turned away from classical music to the dance and film music of the 1920s-30s and co-founded the Palast Orchestra in 1986 to interpret original arrangements of this music.
As the lead singer of the group, Raabe now has a vast repertoire of nostalgic German music. He also began composing his own songs. He wrote the tango, Kein Schwein ruft mich an (Why Does No One Call?) in 1992 which became a hit answering-machine song, and a big mobile phone manufacturer even built the melody into their phones.
In Shanghai, Raabe will sing these old hits, attired in tails and employing a great economy of gesture - his left eyebrow constantly raised and his introductions wryly ironic.
He will present a rainbow of 26 songs ranging from the sound tracks of old, Hollywood movies and jazz songs to two Chinese folk songs, Small River is Running and Jasmine Flower, which he is practicing everyday for what promises to be a perfect, nostalgic Shanghai night.
(Shanghai Daily May 19, 2006)