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The Faena Questionnaire: Ute Lemper

Live, Miami

Our rendition of the Proust Questionnaire is our unique take on the famous parlor game that gained popularity, although it was not originally created, by Marcel Proust, the renowned French essayist and novelist.



Our beloved Ute has made her mark on the stage, in films, in concert, and as a recording artist. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin cabaret songs, French chanson, the works of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, and the chansons of Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Jacques Prevert, Nino Rota, Astor Piazzolla, among many others, as well as her own compositions. Her portrayals in musicals and plays have graced Broadway, Paris, Berlin, and London’s West End.

This season, Faena Theater had the immense honor of hosting Ute for the performance of her worldwide tour, Rendezvous with Marlene, an homage to Marlene Dietrich that recounts her true story through word and music. The amazing show is based on a three-hour phone call and exchange between Marlene Dietrich and Ute Lemper in 1988 in Paris, over 30 years ago.

After receiving the French Molière Award for her performance in Cabaret in Paris, Ute sent a postcard to Marlene, who had resided at 12 Avenue de Montaigne since 1979, essentially apologizing for all the media attention comparing her to Marlene Dietrich. At that time, Ute was just beginning her career in theater and music, while Marlene looked back on a long, fulfilling life of films, music, remarkable collaborations, love stories, and stardom.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

As Gandhi said, when what you think, feel, say, and do are in harmony, you can be happy.


What is your greatest extravagance?

Sipping my daily morning coffee on my Penthouse Terrace in Manhattan.


Which living person do you most despise?

A person of arrogance, righteousness, a traitor, a lousy liar, coward, and a person that shows no integrity or backbone. There are too many in our world and some in my private life, far too close to me. I also despise people who do anything for money. Our market is built on such a desire for profit. Our food is poisoned for mass production, and our education and healthcare systems are unethical.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?



What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My four children. I love them unconditionally, even the adult ones. I am forever connected to their souls. And MUSIC.


When and where were you happiest?

With my family at home or on a big and beautiful stage performing with a perfect voice that lets me explore musical interpretation at its best and fearlessly.


What is your favorite occupation?

Being creative, producing and writing music, inventing projects, walking around the Reservoir in Central Park (please go to my YouTube channel called utelempersmusic and watch my video ‘AT THE RESERVOIR’ to get an idea), taking care of my family, performing, and cooking.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?



On what occasion do you lie?

To keep peace and not to hurt someone.


What do you dislike most about your appearance?

The signs of age are sometimes surprising and bothersome. But they reflect life.


Which talent would you most like to have?

Playing piano like a virtuoso.


Which living person do you most admire?

The doctors and nurses that care endlessly for us.


What is the trait you most deplore in others?

People who exploit authority in a disrespectful, manipulative manner for selfish purposes. Vanity, arrogance, fake and evil.


What is your favorite journey?

My journey to peace and gratefulness.


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?



What is your greatest regret?

Not having been able to be closer to my mother. Not understanding her and not being understood by her is a great regret, especially since her death.


What is your current state of mind?

Peaceful, clear, protecting myself, not surrendering to challenges, always standing up for myself. Giving love and feeling deeply connected to the universe.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Living without back pain, hip pain, arthritis, and fixing my bad vision.


Who is your favorite hero of fiction?



If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Having everyone in New York, closer to each other, not spread around the world.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My four children and my very long-lasting career. My creative journey and perseverance.


What is it that you most dislike?

The process of leaving again to be on tour and breaking it to my kids.


If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

As myself.


What is your most treasured possession?

An old tweezer from my mother she gave me in 1980; it still works better than any new one for plucking eyebrows.


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A miserable marriage, depending on a disrespectful person, having to deal with ignorant people. Financial dependency and, of course, illness.


Where would you like to live?

I love New York, but Paris would be nice for a while, and Florida in springtime. But I work everywhere in the world, so I get to be in all the wonderful places and still love home the most.


What is your most marked characteristic?

Focus, strength, transparency, artistic integrity, and depth.


What do you most value in your friends?

Warmth, simplicity, and honesty.


Who are your favorite writers?

Paulo Coelho, Herman Hesse, Paul Celan, Pablo Neruda, and Mary Oliver.


Who are your heroes in real life?

The Peace Corps, the doctors, the nurses, some teachers, the aid workers, and the mothers who want to make the world better for the future generations.


What is your greatest fear?

An entirely digital consciousness, an absence of simple contact and conversations, an existence that can’t be fulfilled without digital devices.


What is your motto?

Stay truthful, fight for your rights, be simple and elegant. Back to the first question: Let what you feel, think, say, do, and work be in harmony.