The Sunday Times, 29 January 2012
Hugh Canning
Don Carlo, München, January 2012
Don Carlo
(Der Artikel heißt eigentlich "The crossover criminale" und handelt von der neuen CD und einem Auftritt in La traviata eines anderen Tenors. Hier also nur der Teil über Don Carlo)
Four days earlier, I was lucky enough to see Jonas Kaufmann in a starrily cast revival of Verdi’s Don Carlos, at the grand Bavarian State Opera, in Munich, Germany’s most illustrious lyric theatre. With at least two colleagues of comparable stature — René Pape as Carlos’s father, Philip II, and Anja Harteros as his stepmother and ex-betrothed, Elisabeth de Valois — Kaufmann’s troubled hero was the hottest operatic ticket in Munich this season, except for two Ring cycles at next summer’s ­festival.

The three star singers certainly lived up to their reputations, even if Kaufmann sang his exposed opening aria somewhat throatily. He warmed up for his thrilling intervention in the auto-da-fé scene and had a spellbinding rapport with Harteros’s Elisabeth in their heartbreakingly poignant duets. Both are artists to their ­fingertips, and it was their piano singing, remarkable for such expansive voices, that held the audience in thrall, erupting in ecstatic ovations at the end.

Kaufmann’s response to the public acclaim was the opposite of Grigolo’s. At the first series of solo bows, he — as is customary for the singer of the title role — took the final one, but second time round he deferred to Harteros.

Not without reason is this wonderful German soprano Munich’s current prima donna assoluta in whatever she chooses to sing, be it Handel (Alcina), Wagner (Elsa), Richard Strauss (Marschallin) or Puccini (Mimi). I don’t think I have heard an ­Elisabeth to equal hers in almost 40 years of opera-going, and she looks ravishing. Almost as tall as Kaufmann, slender, and with dark Mediterranean colouring ­inherited from her Greek father, she has a shining soprano and impeccable musical instincts, ideal for this demanding lyric role.

She is due back at the Royal Opera in April for Mimi in La bohème, then in July to sing Des­demona in Verdi’s Otello. She is also slated for the RO’s revival of Don Carlo in 2012/13. Right now, she and Kaufmann are an operatic dream team in both Verdi and Wagner. With the bicentenaries of both composers looming in 2013, they have lots of plans to sing together in Munich, so let’s hope that Covent Garden can get a slice of the action, too.


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