Breaking: Jonas Kaufmann cancels Elgar

Breaking: Jonas Kaufmann cancels Elgar


norman lebrecht

September 15, 2016

The German tenor has pulled out of two concerts of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in Berlin next week ‘for health reasons’, the Staatsoper has announced.

He is to be replaced by the UK tenor Toby Spence.

The other soloists, on September 19 and 20, are Sarah Connolly and Thomas Hampson.

Barenboim conducts.

jonas kaufmann godfather


  • Olassus says:

    Health reasons? Hmm. Nothing at all to do with Decca issuing Barenboim’s Elgar series and Kaufmann not being happy with his former label?

  • DESR says:

    Er, forgot to learn it? First looked at the score a week ago? Not enough follow-through opportunities/ recordings?

    Quick mental calculation – then ditch.

    Bit like arranging date with a girl who is attractive at the time… but when it comes to it, not quite attractive enough to demand the effort.

    Oh dear.

  • RW2013 says:

    A good news cancellation.
    Would have been the totally wrong voice for Gerontius.

  • Will Duffay says:

    Or perhaps he actually pulled out for health reasons. Still Toby Spence is a good replacement for them. And a nice job for him.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    What a surprise!

  • Mercurius Londiniensis says:

    One does wonder how long this sort of thing will continue if and when the UK leaves the single market. As things stand, Mr Spence can just get on a plane to Berlin, but what if he needs a work permit to take up an engagement there? No doubt German orchestras and opera houses will still go the trouble of getting permits for UK singers they really want to hear, but would there be time in a last-minute case like this?

    I expect that the Musicians Union has been pressing for clarity here. Does anyone know if they have got any reassurances?

    • Will Duffay says:

      Presumably no reassurances are available, on the basis that not a single person knows what’s really going to happen, rather than what they hope will happen. But it’s looking more likely that travel to the EU from the UK become more difficult, so that will presumably include work permits. Not a good time for UK cultural exports.

      • Mercurius Londiniensis says:

        Yes, I fear your pessimism will prove to be justified.

        Of course, any arrangements that impede UK musicians from working in Europe are likely to impede continental musicians from working in the UK, so there may be more local opportunities. However, the overall effect on UK musicians would surely be negative, for there are so many more orchestras and opera houses on the continent than in the UK.

  • Lydia Wahlberg says:

    Ooo he was in Sao Palo, maybe he has Zika. Too bad.

  • John says:

    Connolly has cancelled too…

  • John Borstlap says:

    I also sometimes get sick of Elgar. He should be excused.

  • RW2013 says:

    The last Berlin Gerontius was doomed by Stewart Skelton cancelling on the day of the concert, and having a very unsatisfactory replacement flown in last minute from the UK.

  • Shirley Moyer says:

    I heard that Anje Harteros is replacing Connelly!

  • liloloperaluv says:

    Did none of you watch the Canto a Napoli live stream? If you had you would have had the painful experience of seeing & hearing Mr. Kaufmann’s voice deteriorate over the course of 5 songs. He taught a class in the morning (film before concert) in which he sang and was interviewed several times. In the evening following yet another interview, he sang 5 Neapolitan songs (from his new CD) without break. He complained of voice/throat problems and referred to having talked all day but kept going. The gradual deterioration was painful to watch for this loyal fan, but the heart with which he sang was amazing. Some will question the wisdom of decisions that day but none can deny his sincerity and generosity to his audience. He was definitely ill by the end.

  • David Bates says:

    We spent many hundreds of (British! ) pounds to get to Berlin, hotel, tickets at €115 each, for the Gerontius concert and the two major soloists cancel. Will certainly never again travel for Connolly or Kaufmann. We fell for it before when we travelled to Turin for Connolly in ‘Solomon’ – also replaced by Wyn Rogers! Good on you Askonas Holt …?!