La Vie en Rose – the night Christine Huvos lived it
Thursday 30 November 2017
This was the evening that Christine Huvos Federspiel always hoped she’d celebrate – an occasion to sing on stage some of her favourite chansons and standards in front of an audience of her friends and members of the public. Thanks to her husband, the well-known Zurich GP Dr. Urs Federspiel, on Thursday 30 November 2017 she was at last able to realise her ambition – and in what style! In a collaboration with the Pepe Lienhard Big Band and to the benefit of the hospital support charity Lebensfreude, Christine took to the stage of the famous Zurich Volkshaus to sing many of her favourite songs on the occasion of her 60th birthday. And thanks to advice from Pepe and support from a dedicated group of backstage workers, on a very snowy night she succeeded in raising the roof.
The program consisted of big band standards and swing numbers from the 18-strong Pepe Lienhard outfit interspersed with vocal classics in the style of Hollywood, Piaf and Christine’s own inimitable style. Thanks to help from her dresser and stylist Susann Melzer, Christine graced the stage in three glittery dresses in gold, red and black, together with a number of suitable props. Her voice was on strong form tonight as she managed to avoid all the seasonal coughs and colds plaguing some audience members. She never put a foot, or a note, wrong. And Christine’s formidable language skills once again stood her in good stead as she performed Mack the Knife, Petite Fleur and Big Spender with equal grace and ease. The Zurich-based band accompanied Christine with appropriately subtle and supportive brass sounds, enhanced by solos on clarinet, saxophone and piano.
Master of ceremonies Röbi Koller ensured that the program ran smoothly, and he also quizzed our favourite diva about her background – how did she come to be at ease in so many languages? She explained that she was born in the US, grew up in Vienna, studied in America and in Paris, and taught in international schools before settling down to enjoy her life in Zurich. She could also have mentioned that for fifteen or more years she has been a leading light in ZIWA, the Zurich International Women’s Association, where she founded the On Stage group, and now runs a French Conversation group as well as participating in many other social activities.
Wonderful big band
How the collaboration with Pepe Lienhard for this event came about is unclear – maybe the wives know something -, but the band certainly acquitted themselves wonderfully on this iconic stage, where Lenin once spoke. They opened the show with a Count Basie number, The Heat is On, followed up by I’ll Never Smile Again. Surely not true? In between vocal sets, they performed such classics as Moonlight Serenade and In the Mood (remember the Glen Miller Story?), Moanin’ featuring a trumpet solo, and Sing, Sing, Sing showcasing the drums, and ending on an optimistic note with the World War II classic, We’ll Meet Again. We also witnessed a brief but touching moment when Christine’s husband Urs came on stage for a dance with his talented wife; I’m sure that didn’t go unnoticed by the many of his patients in the audience.
Great support team
In order to achieve this seamless performance, Christine owes thanks to a number of people: her dresser Susann Melzer from MODISSA, dramatic advisor Isabelle Gutleben, stylists Claudine Gablinger, Bettina Psora and Philippe Diaz, photographer Niklaus Stauss, film-maker and long-time collaborator Eugen Schwyn, lighting operator Simon Blum, Mary-Jane Parlett from the Arthur Murray Dance School and her brother Giuseppi Parlett, and practice assistants Andrea Baumann and Melanie Nef. Not to forget rehearsal accompanist Csilla Varga, and, very importantly, music arranger Carlo Schöb.
And with the eventual proceeds from the sale of CDs, ticket sales, and any DVDs going to local hospital charity Stiftung Lebensfreude, I’m quite sure that the evening turned out to be everything that Christine had hoped for and more! She can finally say with conviction ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’.
Julia Newton. 8 December 2017.