So what are we to make of Jonas Kaufmann’s ‘My Puccini’?

From my album of the week, on sinfinimusic.com:

Reviewing Jonas Kaufmann is rather like presenting the weather forecast. Nothing you say will make a blind bit of difference. The Jonas devotees will go out anyway to buy it and the sceptics will stay home. All a reviewer can do is tell it how it is, and try to save a few innocents from getting soaked.

You may have already formed an opinion on the title track when watching the Last Night of the Proms. The Turandot aria is, by some margin, the least impressive on the album….

Read the full review here.

kaufmann bbc

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  • I always read your comments – as well as your books – with great interest and estimation, Mr. Lebrecht. What I cannot understand, however, is your antipathies against Jonas Kaufmann.

  • Agreed. While has prOduced wonderful renditions of certain Geman roles, has a marvelous sound above the staff and is a fine actor, the voice has a thick, unattractive and throaty color that is quite lacking in nuance. Not the Emperors New Clothes, but there is a huge disparity between his best and worst that is quite baffling. He utterly lacks the morbidezza needed for the great Verdi and Puccini roles.

    Yet, much of the same could be said about Jon Vickers, and his posthumous reputation is stellar, as opposed to the lAte James King, who was a far more radiant singer in many respects. Great personalities often win out over great singers in the esteem of the public….

    • I have an absolute, limitless aversion to Jonas Kaufmann’s voice. Turn off the radio immediately he is announced. Made myself squirm through a whole aria just to make sure I really feel this way. And I do. Except — except once I heard some Wagnerian aria that was just tremendous! As it happens that was the first thing I ever heard from him. I thought I had discovered Nirvana. However … not so. Make of that what you will.

  • The very thing that struck me. Does not compute. I have the CD but haven’t heard it yet. I ordered it before the Proms Last Night. Now I have trepidations. The ‘Recondita armonia’ ended with a gorgeous diminuendo. But, overall, I hear the sound as thick and blunt, anything but Italianate. And the ‘Nessun dorma’ was indeed unimpressive.

  • do not underestimate : the looks , the looks!
    Lebrecht in spite of a few here and theres, nails it!
    Kaufmann is a good tenor but far from the messiah his fans make him.
    He should not record (which does not mean sing) anymore Puccini nor Verdi, the competition from the past is too overwhelming.
    He should go for rare italian or german verismo arias not the upteenth recording of a piece….who needs another nessun dorma when you’ve got Del Monaco, Corelli and Bjorling?

  • Quite a few of the people here have it right about Kaufmann. It’s funny he isn’t singing the mostly German roles he should be singing, and I find his work as an Italian tenor adequate-given what’s around, but not the real thing. But who can blame him-there’s a void-right now he has the top notes(for how long?) has looks, charm, taste, and why not go for the money?
    When he was still doing Siegmund, at the Met-and then right after did Tosca-he was compared on the one hand to Vickers, on the other to Corelli. I said whoever made the comparison had never heard Vickers or Corelli.

    Michael White had a review in the NYT of Kaufmann’s Chenier-not Puccini but close enough. Without being a hater I thought he expressed very well what I find lacking in K’s Italian roles.

    “In many ways he is: On opening night, his firm, darkly defined tone and sophisticated eloquence were wonderful. But his performance was lean, without the fleshy fullness or high-lying ping of a true Latin voice. And it was far too tasteful, robbed of the emotionally crucifying sobs and tears that are the guilty pleasures of late-19th-century Italian repertoire. This was verismo lite: refined, attractive, sleek, but not what you could call the TRUE EXPERIENCE.

    • I have this new CD and have already heard the arias and duets recorded. Jonas Kaufmann is a very good tenor and a wonderful actor. That opinion I got after I had heard and saw him in “Parcifal” at the Met and at the concert in Chicago where he sang arias from French and Italian operas. I am just a spectator and opera lover, not a professional musician, and I listened with pleasure to his new CD. However, of all pieces recorded I liked “Manon” best of all and much less “Nessun Dorma”, and I can agree with some critical remarks of the above review. But that does not mean to me that Jonas must not sing Puccini if we compare him to the great tenors of the past. His voice is recognizable and has some special beauty, I will be happy to hear him again in the next year performance of “Manon” at the Met

  • I have this new CD and have already heard the arias and duets recorded. Jonas I ahve I I I have this new CD and heard it. Kaufmann is a very good tenor and a wonderful actor. That opinion I got after I had heard and saw him in “Parcifal” at the Met and at the concert in Chicago where
    he sang arias from French and Italian operas. I am just a spectator and opera lover, not a professional musician, and I listened with pleasure to his new CD. However, of all pieces recorded I liked “Manon” best of all and much less “Nessun Dorma”, and I can agree with some critical remarks of the above review. But that does not mean to me that Jonas must not sing Puccini if we compare him to the great tenors of the past. His voice is recognizable and has some special beauty, I will be happy to hear him again in the next year performance of “Manon” at the Met

  • I am not an expert on opera. I just know I don’t like Kaufmann’s voice. He may have great talent and techniques in music, but his voice is too brown and too heavy, reminding me of a burly lumberjack.

    I have this CD of Walkure performance at Met. Gary Lakes’ voice in Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond is so tender, sweet and youthful. It brings me to tears. I cannot say I found such quality in Kaufmann’s voice.

    I agree that Kaufmann is exceedingly handsome. But I prefer a 300-lb man with ordinary looks if he can sing like Gary Lakes or Pavarotti. P’s voice is bright, broad, and relaxed. He never strained to go to high C. P and Jussi Bjorling are the greatest.

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