Just in: Jonas Kaufmann cancels next week

November 18, 2016 by norman lebrecht


The tenor was due back this week from a two-month layoff with a vocal injury. But what was first described as a minor delay with a severe cold is now classed as ‘health problems’.

He has cancelled next week’s recital at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

jonas kaufmann godfather

Comments (17)

  1. Olassus says:

    Japan is next.

    1. Thomasina says:

      My japanese friend said me that she was ready to hear the news of cancellation, but at the same time she still believes in miracle…

      1. Sue says:

        Let’s hope Jonas never attains the moniker “cancellation devil” which applied to Kleiber from the Japanese!!!

  2. Elizabeth Owen says:

    If this poor man is seriously ill I wish he would say so then his many fans would not waste money not only buying tickets but also travel and hotel arrangements which are sometimes expensive to cancel at the last moment.

    1. Mike Schachter says:

      I agree, performers including singers are still less than frank about health issues, presumably fearing it will harm their career in the long term. But this sort of thing is surely far worse.

    2. Peter says:

      It’s the concert promoters and agencies who’s interest it is to hide the truth for as long as possible, because they bear most of the financial risk short term.

      JK only must be concerned about his long term prospect as a singer. He has no problem with being upfront about it. It’s those who pay his fees and shoulder the cost of such high risk business as “star tenorism”. 😉

  3. Kristin cooper Holtz says:

    Best wishes to Jonas. Hope this doesn’t mean a serious issue.

  4. John Borstlap says:

    The poor man seems to have blown his vocal cords. I would guess it is because of the Wagner parts. He would not be the first.

    1. Marshall says:

      I’d look at it the other way;the Wagner (lighter) is what he should have been singing, it’s the other tenor roles he should have kept away from. I thought his Lohengrin, Parsifal etc. appealing, his Manrico, Cavaradossi, etc. pulled off, but not the right voice. But he filled the void, made lots of money singing those roles, but I’ve expressed reservations about his technique.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        One of the mysteries of singing technique is, that it is not always volume but timbre that carries the sound. Singers who know how to make timbre work for them, don’t need as much forceful volume as singers who ‘push’ the voice to get their fortes. But I don’t know whether Kaufmann is the one or the other, have heard him far not enough.

        1. Marshall says:

          One of the mysteries of talking about singing is the terminology used. I would use timbre in a different sense, for example, and would differentiate between sheer volume or even amplitude-and particular characteristics of vocal production that make one voice carry better, or seem larger than it may actually be. Timbre would mean more of inherent vocal color in my mind.
          A good example would be Pavarotti’s voice that seemed larger than it was because of his superb technique, and the focused quality of the tone-as well as the squillo it had. Its timbre was also very bright-which helped, but its essential quality was always a lyric-albeit a large one.-why I found him less compelling in those later roles The core sound and color was lyric, and his was a voice that should not have been driven-where it could take on a blustering quality.

          Kaufmann clearly has a dark, baritonal timbre, but his production is more throat bound than good Italian tenors, and above the passaggio it has none of the ease and golden sound that the great “Italian” spintos should have. This is why I said it is the German repertory that sounds more appropriate to his essential sound and the lack of brightness is not the same liability. He certainly-for now?-has his top notes, but they seem achieved through main force, and strange (IMO) physical manipulations.

          Of course I hope the man is well-but I’ve said here and elsewhere that I wonder if his years of cancellations in his vocal prime may be a result of vocal technical issues?

  5. Thomasina says:

    Message from my friend…kaufmann: postponed to August next year.

  6. Cantantelirico says:

    Funny how his agents are the same ones who destroyed Villazon. His agents will survive to find another to fill his shoes. They held him out like a carrot for long enough. It’s the rigors of the schedule which does a singer in.
    He would be wise to retire while he is young. The public and the critics will accredit every misstep to decline.

  7. Lois Silverstein says:

    RECOVER, recover, recover!!
    Sing! Sing! Sing!
    Imagine how bad he must feel!

    1. Jeanne Cohen says:

      Get well. take your time. Don’t hurry.
      You are greatly admired.

  8. gail m. novid says:

    To Marshall & Cantantlirico, Lois Silverstein says it right “imagine how badly J. Kaufmann feels”. Unless you are professionals or teachers what right do you have to talk about timbre or for him to retire while he’s still on top of his game. Why not just wish him well? You enjoyed his performances when he was singing and now that he’s ill you haven’t got a get well wish. What’s up with you guys?
    Gail M.

    1. Marshall says:

      I always find it troubling when people who don’t like what they read on a site, rather than countering the arguments they disagree with in some form, proclaim others don’t have the “right’ to make statements they happen not to care fro. But if we were “professionals or teachers”-of course on the Internet you can be who you want-then it would be OK. I don’t recall anyone being “critical” of his singing ever thought he was worthless, or most of all, ever wished him ill as a human being?

      Opera singers, particularly what passes for stars today, are always subject to speculation about everything, especially when in the prime of their careers, they cancel frequently over several years. It always means something,-it goes with the territory. If there is something “really” wrong and over an extended period no clarification is forthcoming-you will get what he is getting. As I’ve said I’ve never been that convinced about his voice-but have praised his “German” work, and feel that in another era with voices more natural to Italian tenors roles, he would not have ventured there – or at least the way he has. I have speculated here and elsewhere that my own theory for the last couple of years is that his strange technique and unnatural tenor voice has caught up with him. Maybe I’m wrong-maybe I’m right.

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