|LA Times, Blog Culture Monster, March 13, 2011
Recital, Los Angeles, 11 March 2011
Tenor Jonas Kaufmann makes U.S. recital debut at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
recent years the opera world has obsessed over who qualifies as a
“Barihunk,” a baritone so handsome that audiences yearn to see him sing with
his shirt off. Tenors must have wondered what the big deal was. People have
been swooning over these higher-voiced singers for ages.
swoon-worthy tenor is Munich-born Jonas Kaufmann, who drove the audience
nuts Friday at his U.S. recital debut sponsored by the Los Angeles Opera at
the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Fans demanded no fewer than five encores,
including one played by accompanist Helmut Deutsch from an iPad. O brave new
Kaufmann is tall, poised, curly-haired. He has chiseled looks
and dramatic presence. His voice has a baritone’s dark coloring and weight,
and he can use it for poetic effect. He knows that less is more, so he did
not rely on extraneous gestures to punch up his program of lieder by
Schumann and Strauss.
What’s not to like? Well, Kaufmann took a long
time to warm up. He sounded most comfortable in mid-range. Moving up, his
throat tended to tighten, making his upper notes -- unless super-powered --
thin and dry, and he did not linger on them long. When he did, they could be
arresting, but they could also be harsh. One fears he may be living off his
capital not his interest.
Kaufmann’s most telling moments came in
Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” — lovely coloring in “Im wunderschönen Monat-Mai”
and controlled intimacy in “Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet” — and more
frequently in such personal Strauss songs as “Sehnsucht,” “Morgen” and
Throughout, Deutsch was his sensitive collaborator.
Kaufmann’s career vaults forward: He sings his first Siegmund in the
Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Wagner’s “Die Walküre” next month.
The performance can be seen in a “Live in HD” transmission May 14.
Die Leser-Kommentare sind
weitaus lesenswerter als der Artikel:
Really a treat to hear "Dichterliebe" twice--first with Rene Pape and now
with Jonas Kaufmann. So glad the piano was fully open. Very fine pianist
too. Can't tell you how much I will miss these LA Opera-sponsored voice
recitals next season.
Posted by: KW | March 13, 2011 at 02:12 PM
An extremely enjoyable recital not marred by extraneous applause, possibly a
first in LA. Mr. Kaufmann deserves a standing ovation for politely informing
his audience to respect the integrity of the work for the enjoyment of all
Posted by: Erik Gosen | March 13, 2011 at 04:50 PM
We loved every minute of this recital as we did Dmitri's. Not overly fond of
German Lieder, however, Kaufmann delivered such beautiful phrases that we
found the recital totally engaging. I own several of his DVD's and CD's - he
is as talented at opera and the acting required as he is the recital.
Beautiful voice and the baritonal timbre is what sets him apart in the tenor
world. I hope too much Wagner doesn't take a toll on his instrument as it
has other singers. I'll miss having Dmitri and Kaufmann gracing our stage
next season.....Thank goodness for Met at the Movies so we can see these
Posted by: Marty Clesceri | March 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM
A wonderful concert in all respects! I was, however, annoyed by Mr.
Sved's review, particularly the first paragraphs where he reiterates all the
stuff that second-rate writers have written about Mr. Kaufmann. Give me a
break. He is the best German light tenor to appear since Fritz Wunderlich, a
singer who studied with James King and Hans Hotter. He is a serious artists
and a marvelous recitalist. I found the review shallow and general. I think
we need an Alex Ross in Los Angeles to write our reviews.
Posted by: Russ
Higgins | March 14, 2011 at 07:28 AM
Were we at the same concert?
Never did I find Kaufmann's voice anything but appropriate for what he was
singing. Lest we forget, lieder is different than opera and how you approach
it is different. For me, this was the most exciting recital I have attended
in years and years - exciting because it was thoughtful, gorgeous and at all
times appropriate. What a joy to hear a world-class opera tenor sing
gorgeous music of song composers.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles,
and literally grew up at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. On that very stage
I have heard Horowitz, Rubinstein, Heifetz, Leontyne Price, Rostropovich,
Fournier, among others, and this recital was right up there!!! Thank you L.
A. Opera for presenting him.
Principal cellist, Los Angeles
Posted by: John Walz | March 14, 2011 at 07:51 AM
this Chris Pasles guy masquerading as a music critic? This reviewer is
clearly an imbecile who is either deaf or knows nothing about the voice,
thus he spends so much time talking about Kaufmann's physical appearance and
even went so far as to used the term "barihunk." Seriously?? Kaufmann's
forte IS his top, as he sings with full voice where most tenors would fall
into their falsetto. It is because he has such an extraordinary voice and
technique that he DOES NOT need to rely on his good looks as a marketing
gimmick. The same can't be said for the likes of Netrebko or Grigolo.
Unfortunately, few these days have the ear and knowledge to discern the
great singers from the charlatans, and Chris Pasles of the LA Times is
clearly not one of the them.
Posted by: Alice Zhang | March 14, 2011 at
This ill-conceived reaction is a poor excuse for a blog
entry by your staff. I was at the same performance and noted that this
singer, although attractive, relied on his vocal gifts, not only to
entertain an audience with high expectations, but to reveal that Opera, as
an art form, can be entirely thrilling with the risk-taking that was
witnessed at this recital. Performances like this should be celebrated and
cherished as hallmarks which keep the art form vital in a day and age when
technology overwhelms the senses.
Posted by: Robert Adams | March 14,
2011 at 09:02 PM
I agree with most of the comments here. Chris Pasles
must not have been at the same concert the rest of us attended. I was in the
third row, keyboard side, and Kaufmann's voice soared in both his forte and
pianissimi. This is a first-rate singer; a tenor the likes of which we
rarely hear these days. He sang, of all things, a lieder recital, and
achieved some of the highest artistry I have heard. I have been to many good
recitals, a few great ones, but only maybe three really fantastic ones in my
years of recital-going (Von Stade at the Ambassador, Hagegard at Royce Hall,
the first two) and Kaufmann is the third. The LA Times needs to re-think its
music review staff. If Pasles cannot hear this type of greatness.
by: Brad Worsley | March 14, 2011 at 10:47 PM
I agree with previous
comments that this is an absurd review. The concert I saw was of a first
class singer AND a first class musician. I've been lucky in my day to hear
Domingo, Pavarotti, Carreras, all in their prime, live in the theatre, not
to mention Vickers, Gedda, and others, and I count Kaufmann as one of the
greats. Friday night's recital was one of the finest I've ever witnessed,
and I've seen the best of the best over 35+ years of concert-going. Not only
was the singing of the highest order, but Mr. Kaufmann was an unusually
generous performer, returning to the stage for no fewer than FIVE encores,
putting as much into the 5th as he did the first, and never sacrificing or
debasing his artistry. Bravo Jonas!
Posted by: Andy Schreiber | March 14,
2011 at 10:48 PM
I have enjoyed Mr. Pasles' interviews in the past,
but feel I must take issue with this one. In my modest career I have been
lucky to share the stage with some great tenors, including Kraus, Pavarotti
and Vickers. Friday evening's recital was absolutely mesmerizing, with
technical and musical perfection in abundance. And yes, he does have an
unusually dark timbre, not unlike Giacomini, but I do not hear any of the
usual signs of wear and tear going on - flatting, wobbling and inability to
modulate dynamics. I put friday night up there with the other two great
recitals I keep in my heart - Pavarotti in 1973 at Royce Hall (when I was
only 12), and Cesare Siepi in 1980, also at Royce Hall. In an age when I am
finding myself increasingly dissapointed with the state of singing - save
for the plethora of very good Mozart and Rossini vocalists - this recital
was a throwback to another age. Barihunks, Shmarihunks! Vielen dank, Herr
Kaufmann, you are great artist and a class act.
Posted by: Gualtiero
Negrini | March 15, 2011 at 10:31 PM