Underwhelming and over the top

Ute Lemper seeks inspiration in the writings of Paulo Coelho. Her fans gave her a standing ovation at Cadogan Hall, but it was a difficult night for the rest of us:

How you will respond to the show depends to a large extent on your reaction to Coelho’s writing. His admirers see him as a modern-day sage; the rest of us can’t help thinking that we have encountered many of these thoughts before on greetings cards and in fortune cookies. In the spoken passages between numbers, Lemper does her best to invest the nine segments — entitled “Beauty”, “Success”, “Change”, “Love” and so on — with the lightness and mystery of a sorceress, but the words keep bringing us crashing back to earth. [Volker] Schlöndorff’s images, projected on to a screen above the stage, do little to help. Relentlessly static images of ancient ruins soon begin to blur into one another. And once again Lemper’s overly theatrical singing toppled into self-indulgence. What she needs is a strong director who can keep her voice — and her ego — in check.

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