Express, April 28, 2013
By: Clare Colvin
Konzert, Royal Festival Hall, London, 21. April 2013
Opera review: Jonas Kaufmann, Royal Festival Hall
TO SEE the two most acclaimed tenors of today in concert in one week is cause for celebration. Even more so is the fact they are so different in range that no easy comparisons can be made.

German Jonas Kaufmann is a dramatic tenor whose voice is ideally suited to meaty Verdi and Wagner roles, while Peruvian Juan Diego Flórez scales the dizzy heights of the "bel canto" operas of Donizetti and Rossini.

Kaufmann's concert at the South Bank marked this year's bicentenary of the birth of Verdi and Wagner. He launched the first half with a set of Verdi arias from Luisa Miller, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo and La Forza del Destino (The Force Of Destiny).

The four shared a similar theme, that of lost or betrayed love. Kaufmann began with Rodolfo's devastation and fury when he believes that his love Luisa Miller has betrayed him. It was a heady blend of Italianate lyricism, musical technique of the highest order and coruscating emotion.

Kaufmann can use a half voice so that the softest note floats to the farthest reach of the auditorium. Chunks of Wagner provided a contrasting second half. After the Philharmonia Orchestra's opening Ride Of The Valkyries, Kaufmann gave us Siegmund's rousing aria as he prepares for battle, Ein Schwert Verhiess Mir Der Vater (My father promised me a sword).

Here, the voice was of clarion heroic tone, with superb breath control. The succeeding arias included The Master Singers Of Nuremberg's reflective Am Stillen Herd (At the quiet hearth) and Parsifal's cry of anguish "The wound!" as he rejects the sorceress Kundry.

The arias were paced with orchestral interludes from the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jochen Rieder.

Kaufmann may have felt seven arias in one evening short measure though, and gave four encores, three from Wagner and the fourth Verdi. Encores and applause added a half hour to the evening and the audience left clutching glossy programmes filled with pin-up pictures of the photogenic tenor. Next evening, there were more celebrations as Kaufmann was elected Male Singer of the Year, in the inaugural International Opera Awards at London's Hilton Hotel.

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