Classical Music online - News, events, bios, music & videos on the web.

Classical music and opera by Classissima

Jonas Kaufmann

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

February 17

Look who’s conducting the Vienna Opera ball

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discSemyon Bychkov has call in sick. So Speranza Scapucci jumps in. And she’s got another opera ball the following night in Baden-Baden. Cinderella no more. press release: Die italienische Dirigentin Speranza Scappucci, die vergangenen Herbst ihr umjubeltes Debüt an der Wiener Staatsoper gegeben hat, wird bei der Eröffnung des Wiener Opernballs 2017 am 23. Februar anstelle des erkrankten Semyon Bychkov dirigieren. Speranza Scappucci war mehrere Jahre Solokorrepetitorin an der Wiener Staatsoper, bevor sie ihre internationale Dirigentenkarriere startete. Derzeit probt sie mit dem Sinfonieorchester Basel für eine Belcanto-Gala mit Olga Peretyatko und Lawrence Brownlee im Festspielhaus Baden-Baden am Tag nach dem Opernball (24. Februar) – großzügigerweise waren alle Beteiligten bereit, die Proben so umzustellen, dass Speranza Scappucci am Opernball mitwirken kann. Speranza Scappucci wird bei der Eröffnung des Opernballs das Staatsopernorchester bei der Ouvertüre aus Carmen dirigieren sowie die Arien „La fleur que tu m’avais jetée“ aus Carmen und „Dein ist mein ganzes Herz“ aus Das Land des Lächelns mit Startenor Jonas Kaufmann.

Classical iconoclast

February 13

Jonas Kaufmann Barbican £435 ? Sex or art ?

Jonas Kaufmann's Barbican residency, London  Tickets sold out months ago, despite being priced way beyond average. High prices are fair enough for JK, Karita Mattila, Eric Halfvarson and Tony Pappano, but for the piano recital with Helmut Deutsch ? Viagogo advertised one ticket for the last concert at £435, though I've heard a rumour that prices on the black market were much higher.  This is indecent, it's nothing to do with art.  Which raises interesting questions.  Was the series artistic endeavour or celebrity binge ? Or both ?  Why not?  Nothing JK does is "ordinary". Some of my friends, true devotees, travelled for thousands of miles to attend, and had a wonderful time.  Experience of a lifetime!  Most of my friends opted for the Wagner concert, a wise choice, since hardly anyone does Siegmund better than JK, and Mattila was, by all accounts, even more impressive. The first concert was much less interesting since Kaufmann's done similar programmes before, including at the Wigmore Hall.  Kaufmann's timbre is  quite Italianate, with luscious depth, ideally suited to Britten's Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo  op 22.  Much better than Peter Pears, who sounds like he's singing an alien language. Kaufmann makes the songs breathe sensual richness. Kaufmann's done the Schumann Kerner Lieder op 35 several times, too, as recently in London as 2015.  Nothing obscure about these songs !  Again, they suit Kaufmann's voice. In one of the songs  Stirb'  Lieb’ und Freud”! , a man observes a woman transfixed by religious ecstasy. Beautiful as the image is, it's unnatural to the man, who now can never speak of his love. The tessitura suddenly peaks so high that some singers scrape into falsetto, but no chance of that with Kaufmann, who has the range, and has the technique to make it easy. It doesn't matter if listeners don't know the songs or who the poet was : the important thing was to pay attention and figure out why Kaufmann likes doing them.  Unfortunately some of the London press tends towards fashion victim. This is a shame, because that does JK no favours. The better audiences understand what he does, and why, the better they'll really value him, but with a press that values hype over substance, how do listeners learn ?.  Schumann's Kerner Lieder are by no means obscure, or difficult to follow.  Think about those images of gold, wine, mystery, lusciousness : JK all over, and making the most of the smoky undertones that make his voice unique.  Read HERE for more about the Kerner Lieder.  Kaufmann's last concert could well be the most interesting of all, because he's doing something really different, Strauss Vier letzte Lieder, which were written for soprano.  Songs change when they're transposed to a different kind of voice, but there's nothing controversial about that, in principle.  So what Kaufmann will do with them is fascinating. They have been done by men before, even by baritones. But again, I think Kaufmann has the range and stylishness to convince. Moreover, presenting Vier letzte Lieder in the context of other Strauss, and together with Erich Korngold's Schauspeile Overture and Elgar's In the South, also makes a difference.  Again, even if these works are new the challenge is to listen, and appreciate how hearing things in context influences the experience.   Alas, the concert was cancelled at the last minute !  There's another concert Thursday where Kaufmann will sing Hugo Wolf  Italienisches Liederbuch with Diana Damrau.  Tickets reaching £160 !  Again, a wise match between material and voice. Each of these songs tells a little story. While they aren't "operatic", they withstand operatic treatment better than most Lieder.  Kaufmann's voice and Damrau's balance very well, so it's hardly surprising that they've done these songs together before.  Although the Barbican Hall isn't ideal for piano song, it's not bad.  Fischer-Dieskau and Schwarzkopf sold out the Royal Festival Hall when they sang Hugo Wolf, sixty years ago. The RFH is bigger than the Barbican and in those days had a dead acoustic. In the end, it's the quality of listening that counts.  So Jonas Kaufmann's a sex god ?   Real fans also love him for his art. And for many of us, that's WHY he's so darn sexy !




Classical iconoclast

February 11

Harrison Birtwistle's secret opera? King Lear

Harrison Birtwistle's secret opera, King Lear ?  Dementia that is not madness but the last flaring up of a brave soul, raging that the world is closing in on him |: a final explosion of creative defiance against the cruelty of fate.  All the elements of Birtwistle's style - cryptic clues embedded in complex mazes,  geological blocks of sound built layer upon layer, sudden flashes of quirky illumination.  Birtwistle and Lear were meant to be. Plus, a perfect role for John Tomlinson. While everything around him disintegrates, this Lear will hold himself together, searching for patterns against all odds.  Lear's madness is a rage against the storm and gathering night.  In typical Birtwistle fashion, an anti-overture that functions as a finale in reverse. A densely detailed, long introduction that creates Lear in his prime as a forceful personality for whom creativity was the very stuff of life. Themes and sub themes suggest Lear's  inventive mind and passion for experience, so intense that the layers jostle for attention. An overwhelming challenge. But so is life.  Greatb theatre : knocking the audience off their seats right from the start. Gradually as the opera proceeds, theme fall away until what's left it a basic line, repeated fitfully, refusing to end.  People with dementia do rituals because repeated routines provide a structure to hold onto.  One old man told me why he liked touching the walls of his room. "So I can remember the shape of space". Utterly logical and a very Birtwistle concept. Lear's lines are short. Words suddenly shoot out in a torrent, sometimes in mechanical  patterns. Towards the end, words themselves disintegrate into fragments, a boon for a singer conserving his resources.  If th3e singer barks and growls, so be it ! He's earned the right of respite.  As the orchestra sang the full story at the beginning of this opera, it will sing for Lear when his own voice becomes dim. Other parts appear fleetingly,but they aren't central, often submerged within a chorus whose form and composition varies.  Sometimes the chorus explodes in mad chatter whole Lear listens. Sometimes the  voices fade sotto voce, hiding secrets. Every now and then, flurries of lyrical sound, representing a world beyond that is now elusive, but was so good that it was worth living in.  Little trios, like the daughters when they were young. Birtwistle's King Lear is a masterpiece, fierce difficult to play and conduct, but relatively easy to stage.  But why didn't London notice ?  Too distracted by Jonas Kaufmann at the Barbican ?  Tonight I had a surreal dream and woke, wondering who the librettist might be. Not Harsent, maybe Martin  Crimp.  Then I realized thatn the whole opera had been a dream, so intensely vivid and detailed that I'd remebered it in full from the night before, and was revisiting the night after.  Another level of non-reality, framing the "real" opera.  "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks! You sulphurous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head!" .



Classical music and opera by Classissima



[+] More news (Jonas Kaufmann)
Feb 17
Meeting in Music
Feb 17
Norman Lebrecht -...
Feb 15
An Unamplified Voice
Feb 15
parterre box
Feb 13
Classical iconoclast
Feb 13
Norman Lebrecht -...
Feb 11
Classical iconoclast
Feb 10
Norman Lebrecht -...
Feb 10
FT.com Music
Feb 9
Guardian
Feb 9
The Independant -...
Feb 8
Guardian
Feb 6
FT.com Music
Feb 3
Guardian
Jan 27
parterre box
Jan 23
Norman Lebrecht -...
Jan 19
Royal Opera House
Jan 19
Norman Lebrecht -...
Jan 18
Norman Lebrecht -...
Jan 16
Norman Lebrecht -...

Jonas Kaufmann




Kaufmann on the web...



Jonas Kaufmann »

Great opera singers

Verismo Werther Zellerbach Tosca Romantic Arias

Since January 2009, Classissima has simplified access to classical music and enlarged its audience.
With innovative sections, Classissima assists newbies and classical music lovers in their web experience.


Great conductors, Great performers, Great opera singers
 
Great composers of classical music
Bach
Beethoven
Brahms
Debussy
Dvorak
Handel
Mendelsohn
Mozart
Ravel
Schubert
Tchaikovsky
Verdi
Vivaldi
Wagner
[...]


Explore 10 centuries in classical music...