Monday, August 11, 2014

Jonas Kaufmann in Sydney

Jonas Kaufmann is billed as the world's hottest tenor and he seems to have been smoldering at me from all my Internet feeds recently -  obviously the internet bots know my viewing preferences. I saw the man sing in the flesh last night and the reality is even better than the promos.

His voice is rich, velvety, extraordinarily flexible and fills even difficult spaces like the Sydney Opera House concert hall. The man is a consummate artist, much nicer than the posed photos.

Sydney Opera House flowers

There were almost audible gasps as Kaufmann started singing ('Recondita armonia' from Tosca) and after this first song my seat neighbour turned to me and said "Well even that one song was worth the (considerable) price of the ticket."

As Kaufmann sang I noticed a tenor sitting in front of me mouthing the words with an ecstatic look on his face. He obviously knew just how much  hard work and dedication goes into delivering such a result. I had met this tenor earlier in the year and he told me he had bought an opera subscription just so he could get a good seat to hear Kaufmann sing. I am sure he was not the only one. 

Kaufmann inhabits each role he sings (he was singing arias from French and Italian operas and his characters inevitably die tragic deaths) but he was also refreshingly joyous as well.  Violinist and concert master Laura Hamilton played us a lovely 'Meditiation' from Jules Massenet's Thaïs and on his way to the stage afterwards Kaufmann plucked a rose from the huge vase to the side of the stage and presented it to her. [The displays of white flowers along stage front and in two big vases were so opulent I thought they must be fake ... but no, they were real.]

The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra was conducted by fellow German Jochen Rieder and I think this was the master stroke.  Rieder feels the songs just as Kaufmann does; he knows his singer and it showed.

Kaufmann sang three encores to a wildly clapping and stomping crowd at the opera house last night, two of them German popular songs.  I would love to hear him singing Wagner.  I might just have to follow him to wherever he sings Siegmund or German Lieder.

Addendum: excellent ABC interview with Jonas Kaufmann here .

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