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This one Kaufmann won’t cancel

June 28, 2017 by norman lebrecht

15 comments.


I’m seeing Otello at Covent Garden tonight.

Opening nights are not much fun any more so I decided to wait a week for a date when all stars must turn out.

It’s screening night tonight, live at a cinema near you. All the way across the USA and Europe.

Click here for locations.

photo (c) Neil Libbert/Lebrecht Music&Arts


Comments (15)

  1. Ungeheuer says:

    Eager for your review of the performance. But JK is no Otello. Evidence:
    https://youtu.be/5nEJRszkvYQ
    (Neither is E-M Westbroek a Desdemona).
    Ghastly stuff.

    1. John says:

      So Norman, don’t bother to go. Ungy has spoken!

      1. Ungeheuer says:

        Don’t be silly. Of course NL should attend, so long as he agrees with me (-;
        Agree or not, on the evidence of that video, what are those strangulated, effortful sounds and the cooing doing in an Otello? Care to explain?

        1. Olassus says:

          Otello is allowed to coo.

          But this was evidently a lukewarm run-through of one excerpt for a no doubt enraptured Amsterdam audience, so who cares? He probably agreed as a favor to her — his Sieglinde — and because he hadn’t sung in Amsterdam for 14 years.

  2. tinkerbell says:

    Agree – he is no Otello – no wonder he won’t sing it at the MET
    No NY theatre is showing this live – why?

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Because Gelb has lockdown on NY area theatres, that’s why. Plenty outside NY, tho.

      1. Annie TamuBabi says:

        It’s playing in August on Houston Street in NYC

      2. Mario Lutz says:

        Really? So no free market, neither democracy…
        Let me understand this: New York hostess the United Nation, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez could talk any kind of speeches against US Presidents and walk out, but a single opera couldn’t be see while the MET is closed….
        What a fascist guy!

  3. Olassus says:

    Smart decision, Norman. Not only will everyone show up, but they will be more inside their roles and sing with more abandon.

    The drawback will be Pappano’s inability in Verdi.

  4. Zelda Macnamara says:

    Well you know, I’m clearly not as picky as you guys, I saw it this evening in the cinema and I thought it was great; JK isn’t a natural Otello, I agree, but I thought he sang very well and without any “strangulated” sounds. His interpretation of the role is obviously different to those who have done it before him as he is not the warrior type. Being more interested in baritones myself, I thought that Marco Vratogna was a commendably evil Iago and his Credo was spine-chilling.

    1. Olassus says:

      Isn’t a natural?

      The failing NYTimes (Zachary Woolfe) said he was “born to sing” Otello.

    2. Vienna calling says:

      I agree. I thought he sang well compared to his other recent whispered appearances but he’s more timid school boy than angry warrior. His eye brow raising and hand wringing had me giggling, and the crawling over the bed with the blood dripping looked fake and staged. Vratogna stole the show.

  5. fred says:

    of course, he isn’t a real otello voice but i wouldn’t mind hearing him do it. He’s past his prime and he wants to do this role, why not? Pavarotti (even less an otello did it) so did Di Stefano (more interesting than pavarotti but no otello either). Kaufmann will be an otello in the cura, giacomini line I guess.
    The only great post-war Otello was Del Monaco (pre-1965), behind him are Vinay, Guichandot, Cossutta. Domingo could be fine in the role, McCracken, okay for the Brits crooning Vickers, Atlantov (in his prime) …I will buy the dvd release just to see how Kaufmann coped with this vocally killing role and there isn’t many satifying dvd release around doing fully justice to the work. Del Monaco in Japan 1959 regrettably found him in a bad vocal period his RAI dvd opposite two other splendid artists is vocally the ‘creme de la creme’ but the staging is a bit awkward and it’s in black and white.

    1. Olassus says:

      “isn’t a real Otello voice” — true
      “he’s past his prime” — NY sour grapes
      “Pavarotti … did it” — in 4 concerts

    2. Nik says:

      I must have missed some kind of point about Cura. I saw him twice as Otello some years apart, and each time he cracked in the Esultate and could barely produce more than a wheeze or a yelp for the rest of the evening, let alone something resembling a note at a specific pitch. I don’t see how Kaufmann’s performance was in any way comparable to his.


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