Yma - too beautiful to be true
(in German only)
She is the star of the new sensational show at the FriedrichstadtPalast. The beautiful "Yma" captivates men as well as women with her crystal clear singing voice. But Germany's most beautiful revue-girl is a man!
Night out @ Berlin, 02/09/2010
Night out @ Berlin (in German only)
Yma is enthusiastically acclaimed by audiences. Yma is erotic, daring and loaded with dynamite. (...)
Yma radiates, dazzles and smiles on this 2nd of September, with German precision and a blast of talent and passion. But who is this Yma? (...)
A too beautiful, too graceful, too perfect woman. She is too beautiful to be true. (...)
The star of the evening, Renee in her role of "Yma", is what creates the production's erotic shimmer.
Both the names Yma and Renee are ambiguous as to gender, which helps provide the perfect woman illusion.
(...) And if the man can offer an inscrutable soprano, then the illusion is perfect. Renee in his role of Yma is a special class of musical performer. Perfect voice, perfect body, perfect movements. (...) The audience is acoustically and visually confronted by a successful blurring of gender borders. Female impersonation is when the man shows through the too beautiful facade of a woman. This is not the case with Renee's Yma, neither visually nor acoustically. Andreas Renee Swoboda takes it one defining step further. He leaves female impersonation behind and has created the exclusive female model.
Yma becomes, through Renee, a modern diva à la Lena Meyer-Landrut. The little black dress on Yma is a bit more sophisticated. Yma is still a girlish woman who had so successfully handled her nights at the world's best and most uninhibited clubs as the Berghain am Ostbahnhof that she still dreams about marriage.
(Posted by Torsten Flüh)
Focus online, 02/09/2010
The dream-women "Yma" (pronounced "Ee-ma"), who is the center of a spectacular ongoing display of dance and acrobatic numbers, is played by the vocal-marvel Andreas Renee Swoboda ("Nette Renee"). With a wasp-waist, Greta Garbo hair and legs up to there, s/he floats down into the audience in a huge sparkling cloud singing and desirable. "Men or women – it's not so important in this millennium", trills Yma in tenor or crystal-clear soprano. "I am pro-sexual, a type of Alice in Mixed-up-land."
Giving the role of leading-lady Yma to a man is the greatest coup. Andreas Renee Swoboda brings charm, lighthearted wit, insight and a fabulous voice to the role. Thankfully he hasn't made the character a shrill drag queen, but a dazzlingly extravagant show act.
Berliner Morgenpost, 29/08/2010
Rattling, he races up the stage curtain of 175,000 sequins. Glaringly bright neon light brings the stage elements from out of the dark of the rehearsal room. From out of the speakers booms Pink's "Get the Party Started." The song swells from discreet strings to the banging beat of the bass-line. Suddenly a pink light blazes – and there she is, surrounded by all the other dancers: "Yma" (Andreas Renee Swoboda), the star of the new FriedrichstadtPalast revue, exotic and beautiful. The starring role amongst 100 dancers, soloists, musicians and artistes. Highlighted by 312,000 LED bulbs. At a cost of 8 million euro, "Yma" is the most expensive revue that the choreographers have ever created. They want to use her to lure 600,000 viewers into their revue theater, most of all more Berliners – and a younger crowd. (...) The Yma character is in detail much like the metrosexual Berlin in general. A bit masculine, a bit feminine, equal parts homosexual and heterosexual, a projection vehicle for a lot of things. It seems a lot like an adoration of the 1920s, as female impersonators and sparsely-clothed bodies attracted a lot of attention and androgyny was "in."
Renee on earth
Hattersheimer Stadtanzeiger, 02/10/2014
Intense and intimate (article by Stefan Schmidl, in German only)
"the revue is about the pursuit of happiness"
"more than once, tears roll down cheeks in the audience"
"no cheesy entertainment (...) which Renee knows. Therefore, he offers his audience breaks in numbers where there can laugh out loud"
Frankfurter Neue Presse, 30/08/2014
Renee's Coming In - I'm gaga even without the Lady!
Märkische Oderzeitung, 09/01/2013
Wiesbadener Kurier, 30/05/2011
Gehobener Humor ist keine leichte Kost ("sophisticated humor runs deep")
With a mischievous smile and an impish twinkle in his eye – this is how Andreas Renee Swoboda received his first applause of the evening in his home town. (...) The musical comedian came back to play Hochheim with his third solo show. The audience declares it a "very successful performance" – and not only owning to his extraordinary talent: to sing with a high feminine soprano voice that rings crystal clear. "Renee’s Coming In – I'm gaga even without the lady", the name of his new stage show in which Swoboda performs as a masculine entertainer and shows the audience the crazy inner workings of a soprano. That is, without the "lady" baggage, as it were – with a strictly self-imposed ban on high heels. Those who know the artist may be a bit upset, as he happens to be famous for his female characters, and is the female star of Yma – Too Beautiful to be True, currently playing at the Berlin FriedrichstadtPalast.
But those who came for an evening of testosterone-charged macho tunes and dirty jokes went home disappointed. Renee's show is not an undemanding show of superficial viewing, of light entertainment. The secret of its success: a blend of comedy, cabaret and critical social satire. Funny, bizarre, deeply moving. Sometimes over-the-top, but never lewd. A sum of alto, bass, tenor and soprano singing, blended with off-beat, sophisticated tunes that leave the audience spellbound.
From the audience: "This is the highest level of entertainment, even if the humor is not light, but rather sophisticated"; "Extraordinary voice"; "Tantalizing, thought-provoking lyrics and poignant critique on the current state of affairs."
Tagesspiegel Berlin, short & critical, 09/04/2011
("totally mad stage-whore"; in German only)
"In his one-man show, Renee accomplishes a full salto mortale in a completely different role." In his male-entertainer persona it's one outrageous romp. Slogan: Renee’s Coming In – Ich bin auch ohne Lady gaga! ("I'm gaga even without the lady!")
Off-beat emotions and wild circumstances. This is about escalator blockers, taxi-snatchers, and cleaning-nazis. Most of the songs with insightful lyrics were written by Dagmar Bedbur, which allow Renee's coloratura soprano to shine. And pianist Alexander Klein sets a biting contrast.
An evening with Renee
Berliner Tagesspiegel-Portrait: A man gives a good account of a woman
Andreas Swoboda alias Renee mesmerizes audiences with his unique voice range in his musical comedy show.
Sometimes Renee has something of the sinful in his voice. This is when he targets a man at one of the front tables and with a swing of the hip, sets himself on his lap. He drapes a satin shawl around his neck and, clothed in fire-red trousers, stretches his long legs out to full effect. She flirts, is tough, sulks, smiles at him – and in her soft, feminine voice in the highest soprano range: "I'm a teensy, tiny, little bit tipsy!" This is when her victim gets flustered, as Renee is far more than any normal woman can be: she is a cuddly kitten, charming girl, vamp and super-woman – and in real life, a man.
He changes back into his masculine self quickly after the show and admits he himself succumbs to the charms of his female persona. "I find Renee sexy," says Andreas Swoboda, a new Berlin resident, and now back to being a man with a completely normal masculine voice. Skillfully the 30-year-old musical-comedy artist grabs the last free bar stool in the café on this late night for the interview. He looks at least six years younger than he is. And cuts a good figure in his jeans and sweatshirt at the bar with the ideal body of a slender dancer. He strokes a slim finger lightly around the rim of his wine glass. "My aim with this show", he says, "is to create the perfect illusion of a woman."
With his director Verena Andresen, the lyricist Simon Weinert and his pianist Christoph Wagner/Dietrich Bartsch, he has staged a star cult parody – entertainment with wit and depth: the "Soiree with Renee." Andreas Swoboda plays the model "Renee Fein," whose deepest desire is to become a pop star. But during the rehearsal for her first audition she would rather chat and sing about her job, love and sex, tough and soft guys, her catastrophic cooking skills, and despite all her nervousness flirts with the man on the piano.
Andreas alias Renee portrays a whole spectrum of feminine moods and expressions, but her voice is the real star in this production. Its range and feminine pitch is very unique for a man. He sings chansons and operetta numbers as high and clear as a female mezzo-soprano reaching the third octave above middle C. Yet in the next instance his voice glides down to the feminine mid-register, which runs shivers up and down the spine, much like Mariah Carey and other pop soul singers.
One special anatomic aspect makes this possible: Swoboda's vocal chords are very short for a man and close completely when he hits high notes. This special vocal characteristic was discovered during his musical education. Gaining stage experience already as an 18-year-old with a cabaret troupe in his hometown in the Rhine-Main area, he graduated from the Hamburg Stage School in musical dance, singing and acting. And has been rehearsing with Germany's leading voice trainer for falsetto voice, Renate Faltin, of the Hanns-Eisler-Hochschule for music.
Spurred by his fans at the BKA-Luftschloss on Berlin's Schloßplatz, and afterwards in the Lübeck Stadttheater, when he sang coloratura clear as a bell in his role of "Chantal" in the musical La Cage aux Folle, he was encouraged to work on his own productions. He settled into his feminine persona very slowly, he says, laughs like a schoolboy and tells of his first musical-comedy show Jacob & Svob. Two charming guys who vie on stage for the audience's attention. He played both in quick-switch technique, so skillfully that some viewers asked afterwards, just who was that second actor?
In the meantime, Andreas's Renee Fein has become a women through and through. She can sing Goldeneye as if Tina Turner, the goddess of soul herself, were standing on stage, finds "dogmatic gender cliques boring" and bewilders the men when she starts to mercilessly flirt with them. "I want your heart and your soul – say yes!" Yet, she would rather reveal that: "The homosexual man does everything… except for one thing." Renee skips a beat and blinks tongue-in-cheek. "I just can't understand why a man would want to be a woman!"
(Berliner Tagesspiegel, "Stadtleben", Christoph Stollowsky)
Frankfurter Neue Presse: A spectacular show
Andreas Swoboda always knew he would be on stage. He participated in school plays as early as the third grade, then took dance and ballet, four years later he was a full member of the Panoptikum comedy ensemble at the Hattersheim Posthofkeller. "Never gave it a second thought" when he played a feminine role once or twice. Today this role has become a matter of course, even when the idea about his show character in Soiree with Renee came rather by chance. For Andreas Swoboda, whose professional musical-acting education took place in Hamburg, first sang tenor until his colleagues and the audience convinced him, while performing in the musical La Cage aux Folles, that he actually had a much higher vocal range.
"You are a counter tenor," he was told; the voice teacher Renate Faltin, from whom he took his training, recognized that he could even sing mezzo-soprano. For his range reaches the third octave above middle C, with a clear, feminine pitch. This is then how the diva character Renee Fein evolved, because Andreas Swoboda wanted to create a believable stage character to correspond with his voice range.
"I actually don't like female impersonation", says the artist who still wants to create the perfect illusion of a woman. The slender singer is even visually convincing when he steps onto the stage in a tight deep-black outfit and black wig. Acoustically the show is amazingly spectacular, as Swoboda has worked long and hard to blend his "masculine" tenor voice with the high falsetto to create, as he explains, "a continuous woman's voice." And it is this voice that proves the effect in musical numbers and pop tunes, some of which he has adapted for his show. Two of his own compositions are in his repertoire: "Forever Yours" and "Love is a Fire".
Between songs Swoboda tells in runway-model diva character about his life as a model and the dream of a pop star career all the while flirting shamelessly with his musical accompaniment, the pianist Christoph Wagner. Clearly the topic of sex in this Soiree with Renee plays a role, over and over. "You wouldn't be here tonight without sex," points out Renee Fein. It is no wonder that she – after all Andreas Swoboda truly deserves the feminine pronoun with his performance – makes Georg Kreisler's "Sex is a wonderful habit" to a wicked and glamorous highlight of the show. This isn't the only number the audience responded to with rousing applause, so that the flirtatious question at the end ("How about another one?") was received with calls for more. Still, at some point it comes to the inevitable, "The show is over, say goodbye."(...)
(FNP, Stadtteil Hochheim, jöh)
"Chantal" in "La Cage aux folles"
Recklinghäuser Zeitung, 24/11/2008
"The male soprano Renee alias Andreas Swoboda as "Chantal" with his corruption of the great Lucia aria from Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," (...) provides an exquisite out and out parody."
"(...) something like Chantal's adorable Sissi-dream in white. Renee – the man with the woman's voice – indeed leaves nightingales far behind in shame. You don't have to be a prophet to know that La Cage aux Folles will become a perennial success. (...)"
Online Musik Magazin, 24/11/2008
"The dancing 'Cagelles,' the show stars of the Cage aux Folles leave a strong impression: (...) Renee – the man with the voice of a woman (...) as the high-register coloratura singer "Chantal," [...]