Cher Public

Jeune premier

On this day in 2006 tenor Jonas Kaufmann made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Alfredo. 

Peter G. Davis in New York:

Jonas Kaufmann not only has the look and easy stage bearing of a rock star, but he also has a flexibility seldom heard in German tenors—he sings Parsifal and Florestan with distinction, as well as lyrical roles like Alfredo. If his voice lacks the ringing lift up top that one ideally likes in a Verdi tenor, the overall tone is smoothly burnished, beautifully focused on the notes, and always disarmingly musical.

Photo: Ken Howard

  • Camille

    I still miss Peter G. Davis. One of my all time favorite critics.

    • August

      Some of us don’t

      • Camille

        Haha! Chacun a son goo, as I say.

  • I didn’t realise he was singing Parsifal as far back as 2006. Florestan, yes, but not Parsifal.

    • August

      Pity that his recent outing at CH with the admittedly difficult “Die schöne Müllerin” was not what could have been.

      • Ivy Lin

        Think his voice is more suited for Winterreise at this point. Still loved how much of an “event” it was with people I haven’t seen in years coming to the recital.

      • Camille

        Pity, too, his recording of same is one of the most boring Lieder recitals ever recorded!

        • August

          Yes agree

        • August

          It is such a magnificent and magnetic and much else song cycle, isn’t it? I treasure early DFD in it (EMI with G Moore), naturally, but also Gerhard Hüsch from earlier times, both lyric baritones, and of course the classic tenorial rendering by Fritz Wunderlich. Another lyric baritone who recorded the work, wonderfully in the early eighties, is the Austrian Wolfgang Holzmair. It is one of the most gorgeous and moving renderings out there IMO. I never hear anyone mention it.

          • Camille

            Thanks for Holzmair as I have only the slightest bit of exposure to him but have heard much good of him. Die schöne Müllerin needs the nth degree of artistry to succeed, otherwise it becomes an interminable, lengthy snoozefest.

            DFD is always reliable as a reference and I think I do have it, oh yes just bought it last year, and his enunciation of text and clarity of vowels and diction is always a model, but it is good to vary one’s hearing. I have a great soft spot, as does most everyone!, for the wonderful Wunderlich but I will give this other Holzmair a listen some time, out of curiosity

  • August
  • CwbyLA

    Angela G is one of the best Violettas the Met has seen is recent years.

    • Degan

      Of only they have filmed this. I think it was the best Traviata in the last decades. Angela G was spot on at that point in her career as Violetta. For me only Callas comes close.

  • Camille

    She looks amazingly like the actual Marie in this and am so sorry to have missed it now as I was not here at the time. In 1996, and courtesy via Belgian TV, I’d viewed her acclaimed earlier Covent Garden version and thought it all right but still a work in progress. By this time, 2006, the work had progressed as far as it possibly could so it would have been interesting to have seen her ten years down the road.

    Whatever else said about Ange and her narrow repertory of roles — how she didn’t go out and “risk” or stretch herself all that much, I really think now she erred on the side of the wiser path and think her smart for having done so. She knew what was good for her, and what worked well, and in certain roles, even if her voice didn’t totally encompass all its aspects, her visual portrayal more than made up for it, i.e., Mimì, Violetta, Floria Tosca et sœurs. That, I am beginning to feel is far more intelligent than going to Henri Bendel’s and trying on every operatic chapeau one sees, and flailing about in all directions — waiting for the fans to rush to one’s defense to hail Madame as the greatest XXX in history. She has done a variety of recordings, ’tis true, but she won’t be remembered for her recording of Fedora(!) (even if Lina Cavalieri, her spiritual singing antecedent also sang it) but in these other roles she has made a real and lasting impression, the Tosca movie a singularly beautiful piece of work, even if it is a work which taxes a voice not ideally suited for the role, that ciuld all he carefully managed in the studio.

    The role which I wish she would have done at the MET though, was that Carmen, as even though she is not what has come to be the typical type of singer for the role, her type would have still been a lot closer to the Opéra-Comique type of voice originating the role (I conjecture here!). Especially had there been more of the dialogue to vary the singing of what is a low tessitura for her and not the best of her voice—it could have made for a very intriguing and fascinating portrayal. Perhaps I best listen to that recording first which she made with her husband to see if I have made an error here? — but I just have a hunch it could have been something special. Just a hunch. Anyway, those days are past and the Master Class days are fast approaching. Let us remember her Magda, too, while we are at it, as it was great to have this darling but slightly inconsistent work back at the MET, thanks to she and her husband, only a few years back now but for all that it feels already like long ago for what all has transpired in the interim. Tempus fugit, ah well.

    • Lady Abbado

      Hi Camille, even though the full recording of her 2006 MET La Traviata vanished from Youtube, there is still the option to notice her maturing in the role by watching her 2007 La Scala recording, still on Youtube:

      • Camille

        Why, thank you, and it is new to me, so will make a note of it and watch it at some point when there is more time than at present.

  • actfive

    I was at the Met for one of these 2006 performances--Kaufmann was spectacular and had great chemistry with Ange…she was a lovely Violetta if occasionally difficult to hear.

  • Nelly della Vittoria

    Well flexibility given the idiosyncratic/low standards we use in applying that word to male singers: young Jonas had no business, for example, singing the bravura versions of Idomeneo’s arias.

  • I first saw him as Cassio in 2004. Fortunately I didn’t declare he was rubbish.

  • Diva2themax

    I was there! Angie was glorious & JK was so handsome great overall. They’re great together I hope that relationship isn’t permanently over.

    • Walraud Riegler

      It is definitely over after that Tosca in Wien 2016. They “tried” it again 2017, but the result was inacceptable. She did not allow Jonas to repeat the aria again in the first perfomance (of three). He gave in. The next she cancelled (Serafin jumped in) and the audience wanted an encore: he did it!! and cancelled the third show……Why should they work together again. There are enough other singers.