Jonas Kaufmann: My cancellations are behind me

January 19, 2018 by norman lebrecht


The German tenor is at Carnegie Hall tomorrow, singing Schubert’s Schöne Müllerin.

He discusses recent cancellations in an interview with the AP, saying he refuses live a sheltered life just to conserve the voice.

‘There was a generation of singers that dedicated their lives, at least it seemed that would be the case, to the art and they couldn’t do anything but — they would never go to do sports, they would never go outside if the temperatures are too low. They would forget what life is about, and if you don’t know that, you have nothing to tell on stage.’

Read more here.


Comments (32)

  1. Mike says:

    No worries Jonas, the stars of the past constantly cancelled things not only through health but also due to tantrums with management and marital affairs etc. You’ve a long way to go to match them.

    1. Sue says:

      Quite so. I’ve seen him in Vienna (Thielemann on the podium) and he was superb. Wagner.

      1. Olassus says:

        Kaufmann and Thielemann have never worked together in Wien. Kaufmann has sung precisely one performance of a Wagner opera in Wien.

        1. Sue says:

          Wrong. It was 2011 and I still have the ticket.

          1. Petros Linardos says:

            What venue? The Vienna State Opera archive only lists one Wagner performance for Kaufmann between 2007 and 2014: Parsifal, with Adam Fischer conducting

          2. Olassus says:

            You are thinking of Werther, which is by Massenet and was conducted by Chaslin. Go dig out that ticket.

        2. Waltraud Riegler says:

          Kaufmann and Thielemann had the Wagner Birthday Gala in May 2013 in Dresden together; as I remember this was their only Wagner (see the DVD). They also did Cav/Pag at Easterfestival in Salzburg 2015.

          1. Sue says:

            Musikverein 2011 when I lived in Vienna for a year. Jonas sang Wagner. Check archives. I have lived in that city twice on visas.

          2. Olassus says:

            Sue, why are you arguing with everyone? Find your ticket. JK’s performance history is here:


            He did not perform in the Musikverein that year. Staatsoper archive is here:


          3. Barty says:

            According to the Musikverein Archives Kaufmann never sang Wagner there. He did not appear in 2011, unless it was some last minute replacement for someone else.
            His only appearance in concert in Vienna in 2011 was at the Stadthalle with Netrebko and Schrott as part of the “Gipfeltreffen der Stars” mini tour.
            His only appearance in Vienna in 2011 at the Staatsoper was in January as Werther.

          4. Jaybuyer says:

            Sue lightens up my Alzheimer’s. “Was it a bird, was it a plane? No, it was Superman!”

          5. Sam says:

            I attended a recital given by Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch at the Musikverein in which they performed Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. Kaufmann had a terrible recurring memory lapse in one of the songs and had to begin it again several times. Eventually someone in the audience produced a study score and took it up to him. This was all taken in very good humour and the concert was a success.


          6. Waltraud Riegler says:

            What You are talking about happened on 1. May 2014, where Kaufmann lost some Text at Wesendonck Lieder.. It was a rezital with Helmut Deutsch at the Piano. No Thielemann at all…

  2. Thomasina says:

    The prophecy #1 of Mr. Lebrecht does not seem to be fulfilled soon…

  3. Petros Linardos says:

    ‘There was a generation of singers that dedicated their lives, at least it seemed that would be the case, to the art and they couldn’t do anything but — they would never go to do sports, they would never go outside if the temperatures are too low. They would forget what life is about, and if you don’t know that, you have nothing to tell on stage.’

    Question to singers: to what extent is Kaufmann making an overstatement?

  4. Mario Cavaradossi says:

    There will always be cancellations. That is a singer’s lot. However, for as long as Mr K sings as he does employing that weird “finta” sound, he will cancel.

    1. Olassus says:


    2. Martain Smith says:

      Too right!

      Vocal chords can only take so much beating – and they have elephant memories!

  5. Tinkerbell says:

    I don’t quite understand what he’s talking about. Seems to me he has always been very cautious about his voice. Lots of recitals coming up this year not so many operas.
    I still think his appearance is what sends his fans over the edge.

    1. Sue says:

      You may or may not be interested to know that Professor Jordan Peterson refers to Tinkerbell as “the fairy of porn”!!!”-)

  6. Lydia Wahlberg says:

    No more cancellations? Yeah, sure.

  7. Mister New York says:

    Sorry but those of us who heard Corelli can’t lose any sleep on Jonas’s cancellations.

    1. Petros Linardos says:

      Lucky you. I am too young to have heard Corelli at his peak. Judging from his recordings, he was an equal to del Monaco and stood head and shoulders over his successors in roles that suited to his voice, like Cavaradossi, Manrico or Calaf. Have you been able to enjoy live opera in such works in the last 40-50 years?

      1. Martain Smith says:

        I too – and alas we are doomed to very frugal times in opera!

  8. Tina dermody says:

    Placido domingo pavorotti and jose carerous managedto sing and enjoy life in jose careous case coming back after fighting lukemia

  9. Fred says:

    “he refuses live a sheltered life just to conserve the voice.”

    Well, that says it all, the voice will then very soon be gone. Moreover the disprespect he shows towards some real professionals from the past ennerves me. Anyhow JK has no clue, does he really think the great di Stefano led a sheltered life? Bergonzi having experienced world war two and a prisoner’s camp? Callas suffering from famine in war-time Greece???

    1. Martain Smith says:

      Exactly Fred and Leonhard – and don’t forget Lisa della Casa’s nicotine habit! Didn’t seem detrimental to her artistry – or indeed her eventual lifespan!

  10. Leonhard Medardus says:

    There were many generations of singers, who dedicated their “entire being” to art and to their craft, and were able to offer on stage glorious statements of what the composers genius urged them to transmit!
    Mr. Kaufmann’s profound knowledge of modern life’s aspects is a profane, boring and totally uninteresting wisdom, which makes him bring on stage the corresponding soaring soul-emptiness of our times.

    1. Fred says:

      very nicely put perhaps abit too harsh but hey that final quote of JK (if he ever made that quote) upset me enormously

  11. Marcus Clayton says:

    It will be interesting to see if Kaufmann shows up for his Carnegie Hall recital tonight, as well as the concerts with the Boston Symphony in the spring. I am glad that the Act 2 of Tristan will be performed uncut, according to the interview. The large cut usually taken in this act is to me, a terrible idea, and omits some of the best music in the opera!
    Shame on Simon Rattle for taking this cut when he led the opera at the Met.
    I wil go to see Kaufmann if h shows up for next season’s Fanciulla at the Met, but I will go to see the opera whether Kaufmann shows up or because I love the opera.
    Not placing any bets on him at this point…..

  12. Jaybuyer says:

    Didn’t Mr Levine “refuse to lead a sheltered life”, or something similar?

  13. roger says:

    Four encores for an adoring audience. They were great.

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