Opinions about Jonas Kaufmann? Now sings Otello

Discussion of contemporary singers: Jonas Kaufmann, Juan Diego Flórez, Anna Netrebko, etc.
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Opinions about Jonas Kaufmann? Now sings Otello

Postby Orestes » 20 Jul 2017, 17:01

I can't find any thread about this singer which is quite odd.

Looking on his schedule he only sings about 30 operatic performances every year. He also sings recitals but has owing to voice problems cancelled some.

My experience with Jonas Kaufmann's voice is that while exciting live he has over the years getting problems with his soft singing and also top notes, which was his primary assets. Sometimes after hearing a high B I think, "yikes, that must have hurt".

In June 2017 he sang his first Otello at Covent Garden. Here Kaufmann sings the love duet from Otello with Eva-Maria Westbroek. Very recent (June 2017). The soft singing is good. He can go from ppp to fff without problem (at least in this first act duet), but I think he does not shade very well. The colors are always the same.

Do you guys enjoy Kaufmann's singing? Was it a wise career decision to sing Otello?

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Re: Opinions about Jonas Kaufmann? Now sings Otello

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 21 Jul 2017, 12:12

Frankly, I don't find it so odd that nobody has anything to say about Kaufmann: there is in fact not much to say about him. He is a decent tenor with a distinctive timbre but very unremarkable vocal and interpretative skills, and the size of his voice is totally insufficient for the roles that he sings (Otello! ha!) and the career that he makes. In a large theater without miking (which is to say that I'm not speaking about the Met, mind you!), his ill-supported piano is inaudible, and what goes for his fortissimo is in fact merely a mezzoforte, so he is constantly lacking volume (or a mike). He is using kind of a misapprehended Melocchi technique, which makes that lack of volume appear rather funny: he is employing as much brawn as, say, del Monaco, only to produce such a dull and meager sound... add his total absence as an interpreter, and there you have deeply boring and in many respects insatisfactory performances. (Don't be misled by his live recordings - they seem very different from his live performances, since you don't notice that he was in reality singing too low to make any real effect.)

In his favour, he is a steady performer and rarely produces any desaster, he manages a variety of musical styles quite competently and the German style even more than that, he is an exemplarily kind, easy-going, down-to-earth and incredibly unassuming guy - and it's by no means his fault that there are so very few better tenors around these days, and that he is thus making a first-rate career. In the 1920s, he'd have been third tenor in Frankfurt, or first tenor in Linz.

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Re: Opinions about Jonas Kaufmann? Now sings Otello

Postby Jim » 22 Jul 2017, 08:48

I don't know how big his sound, is but a number of people have commented on this. He has sung Wagner in the Met and was definitely miked for the broadcast, but whether this was routed to the auditorium I don't know. His voice could not be that small. He is also a household name with opera fans so he must also be doing something right. He seems to have a very strong female following.

Having said all that I don't like his sound. One of the reasons could be that I have an entirely unreasonable preference for tenors to sound like tenors. Having a huge voice does not preclude this (e.g. Franco Corelli), but there you are. I am happy to stew in my own prejudice.


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Re: Opinions about Jonas Kaufmann? Now sings Otello

Postby Geoff » 23 Jul 2017, 00:13

I have no idea what the previous post was about the internet is forever the internet or some such twaddle. Getting back to Kaufmann, I have never understood the ravings about him. He is totally manufactured. As Jim says, I also like my tenors to sound like tenors and Kaufmann ain't it! However, he's totally fooled the operatic world into believing he's something akin to the second coming ( and has made a great deal of money in the process). Early in his career he sounded promising but that wasn't good enough for him; he went away and came back with a different voice. Well Mr. Kaufmann, not for me I'm sorry to say. As for Otello; words fail me. Then again, as I've said before, what do I know?

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