Back

Watch: Angela Gheorghiu misses cue, keeps Kaufmann waiting on Vienna stage

April 18, 2016 by norman lebrecht

43 comments.


This does not happen often. Jonas handled it as best he could in Tosca at the Vienna State Opera.

Where was Angela? On the phone to Bucharest?

terfel gheorghiu kaufmann

UPDATE: Italian press report with more details here.

And Update 2: A semi-official explanation.


Comments (43)

  1. SG says:

    No doubt AG will blame some stage hand or say she was locked in the loo. But how mean spirited and unprofessional can a performer be. I hope she is never invited back to Vienna. I doubt JK will want to work with her again. Basta Angela!

  2. John Kelly says:

    Word in the Italian press is that Angela took the miff because Jonas sang E Lucevan so well he encored it. Or maybe she was stuck in the bar of the Sacher…………………….or maybe she won’t get invited back……………………..

  3. Absurdistan says:

    People, people, you are way too mean. Never attribute to malice what can be explained through sheer stupidity.

    There is a category of sopranos which, as the great Anna Russell used to say, have unimpeded resonance where there ought to be their brains.

    Now whether the not-so-angelic Angela qualifies…. I can’t tell, it’s for you to judge.

    1. Brian B says:

      They have resonance where their brains ought to be.
      Not feeling sorry for JK here, he’s been missing whole engagements and flipping off contracts when it doesn’t suit him.

    2. This Absurdistan character is the ultimate shallow opera fan that could be the downfall of the art.

  4. John Kelly says:

    She also contrived to get Leonard Slatkin hoofed out of the Met when he was conducting Traviata on the pretext that he didn’t understand Verdi style or some such nonsense. He took the high road and beat a hasty retreat to Detroit, where at least he has the second best concert hall in America to enjoy conducting in…………….and has done his usual stellar work.

    In short, the warning signs has been around for a while…………….

  5. Andrew Condon says:

    Blimey! Glad I went to Jenufa last night instead – superb performance from all concerned. (When the conductor came on stage to take his bow, he shook hands with the prompter – never seen that happen before). The concierge at my hotel said Tosca tickets had been going for a fortune on the black market – perhaps not worth all the fuss?

  6. Absurdistan says:

    “Where was Angela? On the phone to Bucharest?”

    Oh Norman, not her fault, sweet old Angel was waiting for Tiberiu Soare to give her her cue, from the Bureau of the Romanian Culture Kommissar.

    Kaufman’s brilliant quip will make history, in the same league as Leo Slezak’s famous “When does the next swan leave?”

    Sweet Angela will go down in history as well, kindly don’t ask me as what she will go down, I am a nice person.

    1. julie says:

      Absurdistan, you may be a lot of things, but nice is not one of them. I noticed in all of your comments you carry this inexplicable hatred towards AG..It’s actually sad to see someone so fired up about one person and filled with extreme negativity!

      Saying that she “resents” JK for the encore is pure stupidity.

      She did create many moments of great music and all that is well documented. Her recordings, wether live or studio recordings, are a testament to her true and pure talent. Keep in mind the fact that if YOU (and others) don’t like her does not invalidate the opinion or appreciation of other people who do..so you’re just wasting your time out of pure frustration.

      What I don’t understand is why do you post so many negative comments, if you don’t care about her music or her career. Do us all a favour and go spend time somewhere else. You’re a bully and a frustrated man!

  7. Julie says:

    You can read on http://www.kurier.at that the Wienerstaatsoper said there is no scandal and that she was simply late because the conductor went on directly with the music after Jonas Kaufmanns’ bis and it was calculated with applause (like it was at the first performance of Tosca)…

    People are so rude and judgemental and want to create a scandal where there is none…

    As for JKs “E lucevan le stelle”, it was really good, nobody denies it, BUT the only reason there was a bis is because he created a precedent at the first performance of Tosca (after his long absence, of course that everyone was really excited to see him back on stage) and the public wanted the same after the press wrote mostly about it..Some tenors have a way too big ego. Let’s be fair and admit that if a not-so-good-looking tenor would have sung exactly the same, the reaction wouldn’t have been the same at all! Shame that we all have become so superficial..

    Let’s not forget that Angela Gheorghiu gained international fame and recognition in 1994 at the ROH in Richard Eyre’s Traviata and has been in the top ever since, performing in the most important opera houses and concert halls around the globe and is also one of the most prolific recording artists in the business. She has truly stood the test of time! She also says it like it is in a business where not many people are able to stand up for themselves.
    As for Jonas Kaufmann, he gained popularity only recently in 2006 after La Traviata at The Met (with…Gheorghiu).

    AG will be back in Vienna next season with Tosca, again. In my opinion, there is no one yet that does it better than her!

    Anyway, saturday night was amazing and we have to thank the Wienerstaatsoper for this great treat! Bravi Angela, Jonas and Bryn!

    1. Absurdistan says:

      Of course, Julie, there is always the distant possibility that sweet Angela is an angel of mercy, an epitome of altruism, a self-effacing artist and a misunderstood model of collegial behavior.

      If this proposition finds any buyers, kindly remind them that I have a handsome collection of bridges to sell.

      1. julie says:

        I don’t and will never try to understand negative people like you. Once again, you’re absurd.

        1. Absurdistan says:

          Dear Julie, Absurdistan is the name of the epoch we live in. Why wonder whether I’d be absurd? Aren’t we all?

          I refer you to Shakespeare (Hamlet, III, 2)

          Let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
          And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
          Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?

          PS I am sure that the extraordinarily smart (on top of her being so infinitely ethical) Angela Burlacu could lead us all in a thorough understanding of the quote above.

    2. Marilina says:

      I completely agree with Julie. Let’s not forget who AG is. Let’s not forget that since her 1994 Traviata (for which the BBC made the unprecedented miracle of clearing out their schedule) she’s been acclaimed as one of the best sopranos of all time (the only one compared to Callas) And she has certainly stood the test of time! She’s peerless.
      And as for Saturday April 16, let’s concentrate for once on her Tosca, the genious she put into the drama, both as a singer as well as an artist. She WAS Tosca. All that passion and love and beauty I will never forget. ️THANK you Angela Gheorghiu for that!

      1. Absurdistan says:

        Honestly now, the notion that amateurish Angela would be “one of the best sopranos of all times” is akin to the idea that Michael Jackson was emphatically “one of the best tenors of all times”.

        Even ignoring her embarrassing, caricature-like behavior, the singing itself is sadly flawed. A tiny, forced voice, wobbly vibrato with which one couldn’t have passed a choral audition in Lübeck in the 1930’s. Inadvertently funny, unbelievably hammy acting. Incredibly shallow emotion. When she stabs Scarpia, she looks like she’s trying to tickle him to death with the long nails. When she sings “Io son l’umile ancella”, she radiates with infinite, insufferable, inexhaustible self-love, and seems ready to say “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my last close-up.” The identity of her vowels is hard to place, as “i”s sound like “uuu”s, and “a”s sound like “ooo”s.

        Most art matters are a matter of taste, but calling withered-celebrity Angela “one of the best sopranos of all times” is more material of too-easy parody than anything to be taken even remotely seriously.

        1. Beatrix says:

          One of the greatest sopranos of all time Renata Tebaldi attended Angela Gheorghiu’s recital and really liked it and her wonderful voice. I guess SHE had no reason to lie or flatter.

          1. Absurdistan says:

            Could she still hear at the time, or was she judging by ground vibrations, like Beetehoven in 1826?

    3. AB says:

      Well, Domingo and especially Pavarotti looked not that that pretty as JK, but both have their history of repeating E Lucevan le stelle in Vienna..

      1. julie says:

        I was talking about what’s happening nowadays…20 years ago people were listening with their ears, not with their eyes, like now..

      2. Namw says:

        Domingo was way better looking in his youth than JK could ever hope for. In fact, JK looks like an aging car mechanic.

    4. Sandra says:

      That’s a nice mis-interpretation of the article in the Kurier, most of which focuses on Gheorghiu behaviour and her criticising Kaufmann for singing an encore in an interview given after the previous Saturday’s performance.

      The articles last paragraph states that the Vienna opera house claims that it was just a bit of a misunderstanding

  8. Absurdistan says:

    Let’s ignore for a moment the groupies of narcissistic tabloid stars.

    I hope Mr. Lebrecht won’t mind here a positive memento of a time when stars were not made of plastic, ego, and tabloid trash, but were genuine; and when truly gifted sopranos could sing “Io son l’umile ancella” (or “Vissi d’arte”) without making a sordid mockery of the very words “umile” and “arte”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaIPjW1u1TE

  9. Elke Johnson says:

    I’ll be honest, I was amused by this little incident.
    .

  10. Tristan says:

    great Jonas handled the situation superb when waiting for overrated and small voiced Tosca by AG – let’s hope next time he gets a partner on his level and not the poor AG who was mediocre at the MET and even before so at ROH – bravo Jonas!

    1. Absurdistan says:

      Sweet angelic Angela Burlacu is the (even more feminine but less brilliant) Justin Bieber of the opera world. The type of “talent” that relies on hype rather than talent, the type of “prettiness” that people who are rather missing big chunks of the history of music believe is “genius”.

      The idol of the Twitter/Facebook generation. Enough said.

      People who actually care about music listen to real musicians.

      1. julie says:

        So sad to see someone so frustrated about someone’s success. I actually feel sorry for you.

        1. Absurdistan says:

          Hi, so kind of you to worry about my well-being. Just don’t send me a bill.

          I am not more “frustrated” with the Big Success of, now in her sixth decade of life yet still behaving like a narcissistic teenager sheep, Ms. Burlacu than I am about the “success” of Justin Bieber.

          I observe such shallow media phenomena with amusement and I don’t care much, until an explosion of narcissistic stupidity such as Ms. Burlacu’s petty resenting Jonas Kaufmann being asked for an encore happens.

          You know, not everybody who is not transformed into a deaf and mindless groupie of a sad mediocrity is frustrated, jealous, etc.

          I admire many great musicians. Mr. Burlacu still needs to get there and it is a little late for her. She didn’t create one moment of truly great music in her entire pop star-like career.

          Thank you for your concern. I am sorry your empty idol has become the butt of jokes all over the world, but please don’t blame me. Take it up with Ms. Burlacu herself.

          1. julie says:

            Do as all a favour and go listen to pop music, you clearly now so much more about pop than classical music.

          2. Absurdistan, ești un român cu pula mică și sigur Angela Gheorghiu ți-a dat cu flit!

          3. Catalina Cotoman says:

            My account has been compromised. Sorry.

  11. SCORTZY says:

    She is a true talent, but this does not excuse the complete lack of professionalism and the diva attitude I am the best in the world. Romania has had a lot of talented sopranos but during communism the lack of a passport and all the endless difficulties with the authorities were obstacles for every Romanian performer who hoped for an international career. Check really good Romanian singers like Eugenia Moldoveanu for. eg who in spite of her huge talent and international career is even today a model of dignity, modesty and common sense. Unfortunately AG lacks all these.

  12. Kimberly Zhang says:

    Can someone help translate what JK said at :40 and 1:22?

  13. cabbagejuice says:

    Ha, ha, this really made my day! I didn’t know there were optional repeat marks around the “Lucevan le stelle”. To be fair, “Vissi d’arte” should have them, too. Maybe that is why she was upset. After such a spirited orchestral introduction, that any soprano could not have failed to recognize, what a hilarious anti-climax!

  14. Absurdistan says:

    Welcome to the world of the cult of Angela Burlacu (her real name, the name “Gheorghiu”, was stolen from her first husband, whom she used to climb the social ladder and then discarded, long before poor Alagna and, now, the thirty years younger denture-maker, how convenient for her needs of one kind or another).

    In this world, giving an encore (a singer giving an encore, imagine that!) is in poor taste and “interrupting”, but throwing a temper tantrum and not showing on stage, making a mockery of Puccini and all her colleagues, creating a real, absurd interruption, with laughter in the middle of Tosca!, that is OK because, isn’t that so?, she is the Great Angela Burlacu, the Greatest Genius That Opera Has Ever Seen – at least that’s why she and her minion zombies believe.

    Thank God in a couple of years nobody will hire any longer the washed out, narcissistic bleating sheep.

  15. Marc says:

    Yes, please (seconding Kimberly Zhang yesterday at 10:20pm), someone, provide an English translation of JK’s comments.

  16. Translator says:

    The first thing Kaufmann says, in Italian, is that they don’t have a soprano. After that, in German, he says, “Noch ein Versuch? Sie sehen mich so sprachlos wie Sie selbst, aber — ich seh’ das Zeichen, wir dürfen weiter machen. Entschuldigen Sie — das wollten wir so schön in einem durch…” In English: “Shall we give it another go? You see I’m as speechless as you are, but — I see the signal that we can go on. Excuse me. We wanted to do it nicely, all in one piece…”

  17. Translator says:

    The first thing Kaufmann says, in Italian, is “We don’t have a soprano.” After that, in German, he says, “Noch ein Versuch? Sie sehen mich so sprachlos wie Sie selbst, aber — ich seh’ das Zeichen, wir dürfen weiter machen. Entschuldigen Sie — das wollten wir so schön in einem durch…” In English: “Shall we give it another go? You see I’m as speechless as you are, but — I see the signal that we can go on. Excuse me. We wanted to do it nicely, all in one piece…”

  18. Diana says:

    I agree with everything Julie wrote. Never have I seen such pure hatred expressed towards a great star.It certainly is the expression not of rational judgment but of some mean and personal frustration.Better see a psychologist !

  19. Sam says:

    Wow! What an ass you are, Absurdistan! I wonder what your credentials are, and how well you would fare were you to sing an entire opera for us. Very easy for you to spew hatred like that from the comfort of your couch. But then, you probably have absolutely no idea what it takes to stand in front of an audience and bare your heart and soul the way a singer does. You are so judgmental and criticize others for their poor taste… Have you ever looked in the mirror to see the ugliness you radiate in your writings? No one deserves this kind of hatred. No one.

  20. John Mitchell says:

    This has happened before. At a broadcast matinee of Don Carlo at the Met Franco Corelli missed his entrance in the auto-da-fe scene. The conductor just carried on and had the orchestra play the chords that punctuate his lines. I had a personal experience many years ago conducting a semi-professional performance of Romberg’s ‘The New Moon’. The lead soprano missed her first entrance – fortunately in a dialogue only scene – and the chorus men started improvising…’Where’s Marianne? She’ll be here soon. Look – I think I see her.’ It was very entertaining.

  21. Tor, from Oslo says:

    I listened to the opera on my radio while preparing for dinner. Both my wife and I were rather disapointed about Angela Gheorghiu’s performance. Poor vibrato and not holding her tone long enough where suposed to. Sure she normally is among the top elite but not the16 April. Terfel also disapointed a bit. We heard a lot better performance from him earlier. But Kaufmann Impressed me again! (acctually heard him at the met 2006) Both tender and powerful. Maybe closer to barytone than normal for this role, but this is the way I like it.

    As for the quite charming and entertaining incident, I think he handeled it well. He sat still, not smiling, for three or four minutes. Thats quite humble in my opinion.

  22. Mary says:

    There is something wrong with Angela Gheorghiu. I have read interviews she has given and she truly believes she is a lot better than she is. First of all, she seems to believe she is a beauty beyond measure with a body to die for. She also seems to think doesn’t have some genetic gift whereupon she has retained the body of a 21 year old as she seems to thing. She has the body of an old woman, she looks very much her age, and noone cares if she loses or gains ten pounds because quite frankly, noone is looking at her that much or that hard. I also take issue with the fact that she claims that she is the reason that people now scrutinize opera singers’ looks – bc she is SO BEAUTIFUL that critics and spectators expect all sopranos to be pretty. Is she kidding? First, she is attractive but she is not this amazing beauty. She is a slightly above average looking woman whose physicality is bolstered by the beauty of her voice. If she didn’t have that voice, there would not be much to speak of her physically. Does she not understand this? Does she not see that she is almost 50? There are plenty of other sopranos who are much prettier and so many more who are younger, if we are keeping an aesthetic tab. The most inane part of her comment is that she is around Anna Netrebko’s age and Anna is exquisitely beautiful, the kind of woman whose beauty can stand alone and does not need to be lumped together with her voice to be valid. If ANYTHING, and I find it a stretch to impose the burden for this onto any one soprano, it is Anna who heightened the expectations for beauty that many sopranos today may face. Either Ms. Gheorghiu has lost her mind, is delusional, or perhaps is a bit jealous of Anna that she would dismiss the impact of her beauty (and instead attribute it to herself) – but something is not off.

  23. Mary says:

    Apologies for the typos:

    Line 3: “She also seems to think SHE HAS some genetic gift….”

    Last line: “but something is WAY off.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *