Kaufmann on Netrebko’s walkout: ‘Part of my heart goes with her’

Kaufmann on Netrebko’s walkout: ‘Part of my heart goes with her’


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2014

The tenor has been talking about changing sopranos in Hans Neuenfels’ new production of Manon Lescaut in Munich. The chemistry between the director and soprano was, he says, all wrong. Not everyone is going to love this production:

Das ist natürlich eine schwierige Situation. Aber wer Hans Neuenfels kennt, weiß um seine kühle, sachliche Ästhetik Bescheid. Neuenfels inszeniert wenig emotional, sondern eher abstrakt. Dennoch gab es etwa beim Bayreuther Ratten-,Lohengrin‘ entzückende Momente. Aber Neuenfels ist sicher nicht der typische Mann von nebenan. Und die Chemie zwischen Anna und ihm hat nicht gepasst. Vermutlich lag es auch an sprachlichen Barrieren. So ist Kunst halt manchmal. Mit einem Teil meines Herzens bin ich auch bei Anna.

Für Sie stellt Neuenfels’ Puccini-Zugang kein Problem dar?

Puccini ist ja extrem mit Emotionen beladen, und ich mag dieses Stück so gern. Ich möchte es dem Publikum unbedingt präsentieren. Ich lebe in München, München ist mein Stammhaus, und ich möchte meinen Teil zu dieser Produktion beitragen. Ich nehme von innen Einfluss und versuche das Ganze in die Richtung zu schieben, in der ich es gerne hätte. Aber sicher ist: Diese Produktion wird nicht jedem gefallen.



  • Simon S. says:

    German radio (hr2 Kultur) told me this morning that this week’s Der Spiegel has an interview with Neuenfels on the issue. The article seems not to be online so far, and I haven’t bought the Spiegel for ten years and won’t change this neither for Neuenfels nor for Netrebko.

    Anyway, as far as I remember the radio man, Neuenfels claims that they had indeed irreconcilably different views on the character of Manon, him saying that she has to chose either love or money, while Netrebko had stated that there should be no problem in combining both. Neuenfels (always according to my memory on the radio journalist quoting the Spiegel) commented on this that maybe in Russia it’s no problem for a pretty young woman to be kept by a rich old man.

  • Christy says:

    I remember disagreements reported during rehearsals of Onegin at the Met. Netrebko wanted to change ending. She suggested that Tatiana would never refuse physical contact with Onegin and would never simply walk (or run) away out of a sense of honor. That was unrealistic, she said. She prevailed.

    • SMR says:

      Christy, please look at 2’50 and don’t spread those reported rumors which are only meant to make her wrong. If you want to do her wrong, there are probably more honest ways.
      She says totally the opposite : for her Tatiana CAN’T kiss Onegin.
      What she said in Opera news is that Tatiana as a fictionnal character from the 19th Century was not like her who is a woman of the 21st Century. SHE (Netrebko) would f… the guy ; But not Tatiana who is too noble for that and has sense of responsability and sacrifice.
      So in fact Netrebko bowed to the will of the director in this case and agreed to kiss Onegin.

      By the way it’s very easy to check it as this staging premiered in London and Tatiana already kissed Onegin there.

    • sdReader says:

      Good that you bring this up. Sometimes the director is right.

      • Alexander Brown says:

        … by which you imply that he is also ‘sometimes’ wrong! There will always be room for differences of opinion in this field, and Miss Netrebko is lucky enough to be able walk out of a production like this, being so famous. Younger, less famous singers do not have that luxury. However, if I were asked to masturbate, urinate or defecate during an opera such as Il Trovatore or Ballo in Maschera – as singers have been required to do in productions by a certain Spanish director now much in vogue – I would have walked out, famous or not (and I am a retired opera singer, so I speak from experience!).

        • sdReader says:

          Whoa! I don’t like Calixto Bieito or his ilk any more than you do. In Christy’s example above, Netrebko was forgetting the mores of the time of Evgeny Onegin.

          • SMR says:

            SREADER, It’s fascinating to see how false facts can be accepted without checking, especially when you want to believe it.
            The kiss was definitely the director’s decision and Netrebko who is not the bad and stupid girl you want her to be bowed.
            This is the review on the production who premiered in London in 2012 (Netrebko performed in 2013). The kiss was already there. So it’s definitely Warner who forgot the time of Onegin.. not Netrebko.
            Netrebko was not that happy with the idea but finally agreed.

          • sdReader says:

            SMR, your comment of yesterday appeared only this morning. If the facts are backwards, then I believe Anna was right!