The Telegraph, 26 Apr 2013
Konzert, Royal Festival Hall, London, 21. April 2013
A fresh dawn for Verdi? - Jonas Kaufmann, at Royal Festival Hall
In the Italian composer's bicentenary year, Jonas Kaufmann seems to be heralding an exciting new age of Verdian singing, says John Allison.
Verdi and Wagner were scrupulously balanced in Jonas Kaufmann’s rapturously received Festival Hall concert (the night before the star tenor was voted best male singer at the inaugural Opera Awards). Even without a fully Italianate instrument, Kaufmann’s honeyed, warm tone makes him exceptional in Verdi, and he opened the evening with an account of Rodolfo’s “Quando le sere al placido” from Luisa Miller that found space for intimacy and reflection.

Not for the first time with Kaufmann, some of this expression comes at the expense of long, unbroken lines, so crucial to Verdian style. With more idiomatic accompaniments this might have mattered less, but the Philharmonia under Jochen Rieder was on plodding form, and only marginally better in the Wagner.

But Kaufmann’s refined artistry shows that even without the leather-lunged Verdians of half a century ago, today’s stars can stake their claim on the composer.

And because Verdi’s music grew out of the bel canto period, now that the bel canto revival is assured – Bellini and Donizetti are attracting some of today’s finest singers – it may be that we are approaching a new age of Verdi singing.

 back top