Herald Sun, August 15, 2014
Anna McAlister
Konzert, Hamer Hall, Melbourne, 14. August 2014
Jonas Kaufmann, Opera Australia, Hamer Hall
JONAS Kaufmann absolutely deserves the hype surrounding his first Australian concert tour. He has been called the world’s leading tenor and you can see why.
Kaufmann’s voice is a sublime gift, but his technical facility and nuanced expressiveness are what make him a captivating performer. In this concert of mostly Italian and French arias, his seemingly effortless technique and vocal power conveyed emotional detail and potency.

And he has charisma. Arias in concert can lack impact without their operatic context. But Kaufmann’s animated face and physical gestures—fleeting yet loaded—brought home the meaning.

In La Fleur que tu m’avais jetee from Bizet’s Carmen, Kaufmann’s higher register was refreshingly smooth and comfortable where many singers are strained. E lucevan le stelle from Puccini’s Tosca was a riveting highlight. Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci was suitably racked with a cuckold’s anguish.

Under conductor Jochen Rieder, who is touring with Kaufmann, Orchestra Victoria accompanied with their usual attentiveness and sensitivity. There was some glorious individual playing (such as clarinetists Paul Champion and Andrew Mitchell in E lucevan le stelle), but the orchestra-only numbers—which were half the program — too often sounded under-rehearsed.

Phrases were plain, ensemble messy, endings rushed. Verdi’s Sicilian Vespers overture made a shabby opening to the concert—the La Forza del Destino overture, which OV nailed later, would have been a far better start.

Kaufmann had the standing audience applauding long and hard for encores. Tauber’s Du bist der Welt fur mich and Lehar’s Das Land des Lacheln were moving, sincere performances of the Viennese operetta repertoire featured in Kaufmann’s new album.

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