Jonas Kaufmann: ‘I have never known stage fright’

Jonas Kaufmann: ‘I have never known stage fright’


norman lebrecht

February 22, 2015

‘I’m just one of those stage monsters, not afraid of anything,’ the great tenor tells BBCs’s Desert Island Discs. Listen here.

He has much to say about saving Wagner from his excesses: ‘why would a composer destroy his own tunes by his texts?’

jonas kaufmann1

In other comments, Kaufmann mentions that he refuses to sign contracts five years in advance: ‘At a time of financial crisis you can be very happy and thankful to have contracts for such a long period, but artistically speaking it’s a catastrophe.’


  • Alberto Martinez says:

    A composer would want to destroy his own tunes by his texts cause it was his personal work he envisioned as a whole and it seems it was a “hit ” in the charts back then. Wagner surely know many texts but he choosed to do the text too.
    The text don´t destroy the tunes anyway .

  • Nick says:

    I have always been surprised that stage fright affects many, but far from all, artists. I watched Helga Dernesch happily chatting and smoking in the wings (against theatre regulations!) before quickly stubbing out her cigarette, throwing back her hair and making a solemn entrance as one of Wagner’s heroines.

    The late Michael Rippon, a hugely experienced professional bass baritone, was a name well known to many in the music profession in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. I met him on several occasions after he moved to Asia in his mid-40a to take up a teaching position at Hong Kong’s fledgling Academy for Performing Arts. Over lunch one day, I recall asking him why he had elected to all but give performing. He told me he simply could not handle the pre-performance nerves any more.

    • Po Rippon says:

      You are absolutely right, Nick! Michael had terrible nerves! However, once he was on stage, he would shine!

  • Marshall says:

    Hmm, maybe that’s what’s wrong with him?

    Pavarotti always said, that any performer who says he’s not nervous before going on stage is a liar-in fact some degree of nerves is essential to a great performance. Performers far greater than Kaufmann suffered the pains of the damned before performing, others had various manageable degree of nerves before walking out. I’ve never heard anyone before say, he never has any fears.

    • David says:

      Possibly. That guy really seems to think he’s the singer of the century, while he’s just above average. His Winterreise recording is terrible, awful really. His voice, in his Verdi recording, is (surprisingly) not bad, but nothing more than correct – why by the way would would someone like record Verdi arias? I doubt he’ll be able to pull off the Otello everybody’s anticipating.

  • Gloria says:

    He seems to have changed a lot in the last year when he was very cordial & charming with fans waiting for autographs & photos – he now seems under duress sitting behind the plexiglass – anxious to be anywhere but there. Has success gone to his head?

    He is no Pavarotti. Right now in NY after cancelling the only two performances he had here – he isn’t too popular – perhaps he is just prone to illness. I too doubt Otello will come with him in 2017.