Germany’s favourite tenor gets booed in Berlin

Germany’s favourite tenor gets booed in Berlin


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2014

Ask anywhere in Germany for the top Wagner tenor and the odds are that Klaus Florian Vogt will get the popular vote ahead of Jonas Kaufmann. Smaller in voice and physique, much favoured in Bayreuth, Vogt has a universal, trans-generic appeal where Kaufmann’s fans are mostly female opera buffs. The rivalry is, in its clear distinction, as interesting as that of Domingo and Pavarotti, in their day.

Which makes it all the more puzzling that Vogt received his first really hostile reception this weekend, playing Faust in a depressive new production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Read the first review here (auf Deutsch).

Has the German fad for booing singers just gone one tenor too far? Or is Berlin a Kaufmann fortress?

Kaufmann, meanwhile, is wowing the Met in Werther. Goethe rules, ok?

klaus florian vogt


  • A few little boos does not a partisan bastion make. In any case, KFV was booed in the same house for his Cavaradossi a while back. This is the same audience that cheers him for his Lohengrin and Parsifal, so we can all draw our own conclusions…

  • Michael says:

    1. The review just mentions that there were a few boos.

    2. The headline says he was “bejubelt” – acclaimed, cheered. I guess if you wanted the one single German word any opera singer would like to read to describe the audience’s response to his/her performance, probably top of the list would be that he/she was “bejubelt”.

    3. This is the critic’s conclusion:- “Er wird am Ende vom Publikum bejubelt – wie alle Beteiligten. Es ist eine gelungene Produktion.” My translation:- “It [the chorus] was acclaimed by the public – as were all participants. It is a successful production”. Was this a “really hostile reception” or a “depressive new production”?

    4. I have no evidence to support your view that KFV is clearly more popular than JK in Wagner, but from my experience I find it hard to believe.

    5. I assume you meant that KFV has a universal, transgender appeal: maybe you did mean trans-generic, whatever that may mean! If it’s universal, I am not sure why you needed to add anything about the sex or sexual orientation of his fans!

    6. In my view KFV’s popularity (universality? trans-genericity?) is that he fits into the category of tenors who will always give an honest performance and always gives opera-goers confidence at the outset that he will still be there in good voice at the end of testing Wagner roles. I call these – without any intended slight – the also-rans. However good they are, they will always run second to Usain Bolt.

    7. To say that JK’s fans are mostly female opera buffs is just astonishing. As we know there are significantly more men than women who go to the opera and I have never noticed the men in the audience sitting on their hands at the end of a JK performance.

    8. As for JK’s popularity (I leave all the female opera buffs out there to speak for themseves!), he has now moved into that rare category of singers whose interpretations are an intrinsic part of the voice – the great singers. These artists can just stand there and make you believe. For all his size and (un-)athleticism, Pavarotti was a great stage interpreter (Cavaradossi, Rodolfo and Nemorino, for example). JK is the same – KFV is not.

    9. To dismiss JK as being mainly for “female opera buffs” is possibly your way of saying he’s goodlooking but not a great singer. Is JK becoming your LL or VPO of the opera world?

  • Brian says:

    Neither of these gentlemen should be singing Faust (Gounod not Berlioz). In fact, my long ago surmise, based on his Lohengrins, that Jonas might, ongue in cheek, be the reincarnation of Jean de Reszke (vocal size aside) was quickly dispelled when I heard him sing Faust. But his good looks shouldn’t be held against him and dismissed as a matinee idol for the ladies anymore than JdR. Both had/have considerable artistry at their command.