German baritone Max Raabe will perform an alluring mix of Weimar-era cabaret songs and modern-day pop in Tokyo on May 25 and in Osaka the following day, accompanied by his Palast Orchester.

Famous in Europe for his performances of mainly German music from the era between the two world wars, when political and social tensions were high and musical relief was greatly sought, Raabe is adored in his home country as “Germany’s last gentleman.”

The well-ironed long tailcoat and shining shoes are not the only things that are black for Raabe: His slick-back hair, suave good looks and twinkling eyes are permanently set in a facial expression that barely moves, with his dark sense of humor flickering wickedly in the ironic twitch of an eyebrow and the thick rolling of his “r’s.”

With his Palast Orchester, a jazz-folk ensemble he founded in 1986, Raabe’s show will include everything from foxtrot, tango and Cuban rumba to covers of popular film tunes and modern pop songs in a 1920s-’30s style, arranged by Raabe himself.

The attraction of Raabe’s shows does not lie only in his varied program. A baritone with a degree in opera, his flexible voice expresses all shades of irony and humor in tones that soar as high as a tenor’s and sink as deep as those of a bass. His polished performance has gained him some unlikely fans: In 2005, Raabe sang at the wedding of shock rocker and self-styled Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson, a performer known to borrow a trick or two from the cabaret world in his own flamboyant stage shows.

Max Raabe and Palast Orchester will perform at Osaka Central Public Hall on May 25, and at Dai-ichi Seimei Hall in Tokyo on May 26. Both concerts start at 7 p.m. Tickets are 5,000 yen, with those for the Tokyo show now almost sold out.

For more information, visit www.issey-ogata.net

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