In the summer of 2003, just 3,500 people listened to Roland Kaiser’s hits on the banks of the Elbe as part of the “Dresdner Filmnächt” (Dresden Film Nights). Luckily, organizer Semmel Concerts had a good sense of people’s enthusiasm, recognized the ingenious combination of summer, hits and city scenery – and immediately planned to repeat it next year. “Kaisermania” was born.

“It was an experiment,” recalls Roland Kaiser. But one that worked. In 2022, the “Woodstock des Schlagers” attracted more than 10,000 people to the banks of the Elbe – and that on six evenings in a row. Those who didn’t get tickets sat with a picnic basket on the meadows around the concert area and loudly celebrated lines like “Santa Maria, island that was born from dreams …”

“Kaisermania” has been around for twenty years

For the 20th anniversary of the exceptional musical story, ARD gave the Schlagerkaiser 180 minutes of broadcasting time: a potpourri of lots of concert recordings, garnished with comments by Roland Kaiser. The stage is his alone. No off-screen speaker, no background information, no interviews: From a journalistic point of view, there would have been more to the phenomenon of “Kaisermania”. But “Kaisermania” is just a one-man show. The ARD bowed to the concept.

Even those who had hoped to finally be able to take a look behind the scenes or learn new anecdotes were disappointed. The fans have long known that the text for “Santa Maria” was created under the influence of frustration and red wine and was actually intended as a joke. But they probably won’t mind hearing it again.

Roland Kaiser on Dresden: “A very big love”

Why Dresden as the location of the annual imperial ceremony? Born in West Berlin as Ronald Keiler, the trained car dealer Roland Kaiser has lived in Münster for many years. But the relationship between him and Dresden is a very special one, he assures. “It was only supposed to be an affair,” says his hymn to Dresden. But “the city and I – it’s actually more than just an affair,” he says. Namely “a very big love”. On both sides.

While the ladies wear thin dresses and spaghetti strap shirts in front of the stage on hot summer nights, the emperor is always on stage in a three-piece suit; When it’s 30 degrees in the shade, the handkerchief in the jacket pocket keeps its composure, just like the man in the jacket. Ties and jackets are only removed for the encore. This concession to the late hour roughly corresponds to the bathrobe worn by Kaiser’s highly esteemed colleague Udo Jürgens.

The four “Kaisermania” concerts sold out in minutes

The grand seigneur of the Schlager world turned 70 last year, but the hype surrounding him has become more rather than less over the years. The tickets for the first four “Kaisermania” concerts in 2023 were sold out within ten minutes – despite the limit of four tickets per person and date. And despite a ticket price of around 95 euros.

However, when Roland Kaiser talks about the success of the summer show, which has developed around him, his hits and the city within two decades, he doesn’t appear imperial, but humble in a sympathetic way: “To be able to experience that makes me very happy , very reverent and grateful.” He emphasizes the special position of the Dresden public, which welcomes its Kaiser with open arms and ever greater enthusiasm year after year. “The fans of ‘Kaisermania’ are a phenomenon,” he asserts and jokes: “I already know some of the first series personally.”

Roland Kaiser: “Love can save us”

In order to understand the phenomenon, one must have danced in the midst of the crowd on a warm summer night on the Elbe and roared together “To love you, to touch you, my desire to feel you”. The magic of “Kaisermania” is difficult to convey on screen; the ARD show is no exception.

“Experiencing community” is the core of this event for him, says Roland Kaiser – a small treasure, especially in times that are characterized more by opposing than by togetherness. “Love can save us, free us from all chains,” sings Kaiser. In Dresden, the people in the audience then wave white handkerchiefs, a happily waving capitulation to the good news. In Schlager, hope is always just a verse away.

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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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