No refund for Jonas Kaufmann fans

No refund for Jonas Kaufmann fans


norman lebrecht

October 07, 2016

Parisians paid 25 percent above normal ticket prices to see Jonas Kaufmann in Tales of Hoffmann next month. He cancelled.

So here’s the deal.

Instead of offering a refund, the Paris Opéra is telling subscribers it still expects to see them at Tales of Hoffmann – now with Ramon Vargas – but will also offer them free tickets to another opera or ballet of their choice.

Good deal?

It’s only on offer to subscribers. Single-ticket holders have not been contacted.

Here’s the letter, published by ForumOpera:

Cher abonné,

Vous avez été informé récemment de l’impossibilité pour Monsieur Jonas Kaufmann de débuter dans le rôle d’Hoffmann dans Les Contes d’Hoffmann en novembre prochain à l’Opéra national de Paris. Monsieur Jonas Kaufmann a expliqué dans un courrier adressé aux spectateurs de nos théâtres et publié sur notre site Internet, les raisons de santé majeures qui l’obligent malheureusement à annuler sa participation à ce spectacle très attendu par tous.

Dans ce moment difficile, je lui souhaite un prompt rétablissement en espérant l’accueillir très vite sur nos scènes. Je tiens aussi à remercier chaleureusement Monsieur Ramón Vargas qui interprétera le rôle d’Hoffmann du 3 au 18 novembre, en accord avec le Metropolitan Opera de New-York. Grâce à son engagement et à l’ensemble de la distribution qui l’entourera, dirigée par le maestro Philippe Jordan, notre directeur musical, vous assisterez à un très beau spectacle, dans la mise en scène de Monsieur Robert Carsen.

Toutefois, pour atténuer la déception que vous pouvez ressentir après la nouvelle de l’annulation de Monsieur Kaufmann, et parce que vous êtes un abonné fidèle de l’Opéra national de Paris, je souhaite vous inviter sur une représentation de votre choix parmi 10 spectacles de la saison 2016-2017 (8 opéras et 2 ballets) :

– Lucia di Lammermoor (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 14 octobre)
– Cavalleria Rusticana / Sancta Susanna (au Palais Garnier, à partir du 30 novembre)
– Iphigénie en Tauride (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 2 décembre)
– La Flûte Enchantée (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 23 janvier)
– Trompe-la-mort (au Palais Garnier, à partir du 16 mars)
– Wozzeck (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 26 avril)
– Rigoletto (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 27 mai)
– Carmen (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 13 juin)
– Jirí Kylian (au Palais Garnier, à partir du 29 novembre)
– Drumming Live (à l’Opéra Bastille, à partir du 1er juillet)

Je vous invite à réserver gratuitement dès à présent le spectacle de votre choix, en contactant un conseiller au 01 73 60 26 26. Vous pourrez obtenir le même nombre de billets, dans la même catégorie, que ceux que vous avez acquis pour Les Contes d’Hoffmann auquel, naturellement, vous assisterez.

Je souhaite, par cette invitation, vous remercier à nouveau très chaleureusement pour votre fidélité à l’Opéra de Paris.

Je vous prie de croire, cher abonné, en l’expression de ma meilleure considération.

Stéphane Lissner


jonas kaufmann placido domingo


  • V.Lind says:

    Ticket pricing policies never cease to annoy me — circumstances under which you do and do not pay certain surplus charges, prices raised throughout the season (without notice), the use of ticketing agents for part of the complement of seating availability, the “best available” policy when you order without turning up (and even then if too early in the ticket availability period), restricted exchange policies, and the lack of refunds short of a major war or cancellation of the entire show.

    That said, most houses do — and must — reserve the right to alter casts for very reasons such as Mr. Kaufman’s illness. Mostly it is buyer beware when it comes to casting decisions. It is problematic when an event is premier priced to reflect a a particular star. If it were a concert, the house would probably offer a credit for the difference between that and normal subscription price that could be applied toward the purchase of another ticket or another event. With opera, a cast show, it is a grey area. Under those circumstances, I think the offer is a very good one indeed.

    I think they must make some accommodation for single ticket buyers. Houses had better start learning that THESE are the people upon whom they are going to have to depend going forward. Most house currently think of them as pond scum, but in this on-demand society, many of them buy more and pay more than subscribers, prepared to pay for securing their own convenience.

    • Sebastian Petit says:

      As a UK based ticket holder I can confirm that we have had nothing except a snotty letter saying there will be no refunds

  • Olassus says:

    Notice how they write “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” but “l’Opéra national de Paris”?

    Cap C, small n.

    It should of course be small c on “contes.”

    The company name, while technically correct, reveals a kind of fad in France, more than an inconsistency. So we also see nowadays “République française,” “Alliance française” and others. To foreigners, this looks strange and pedantic.

    But Canadians have been writing “Orchestre symphonique de Montréal” for some time, despite how that orchestra is listed on its records.

    Then there is “La bohème” … but “La Juive” and “Les Huguenots.”

    It is hard to know what is right.

    • Cuban Stallion says:

      Fascinating! And indeed confusing. Drives me crazy because I proofread lots of programmes with classical music works in different languages.

      It is explained well here

      “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” is correct (If the title of the work begins with a definite article and the title is not a verbal sentence, the first substantive (noun) is capitalised). Because of this same rule, the second word of La bohème is not capitalised outside of France, but it is in France. This rule explains “La Juive” and “Les Huguenots” as well.

      Your other examples are correct: these are French institutions. When they are “unique”, you capitalise the first word after the definite article — except for proper nouns (eg, Paris and Montreal), which must be capitalised.

      Hope this helps.

    • Mathieu says:

      Er… you should start learning a bit of French. Cap C, cap O (Opera)! “Les” and “l'” are both definite articles. If Offenbach’s masterwork had been called “Les Contes fantastiques d’Hoffmann”, there would be Cap C and small f, just as in “l’Opera national”

      Anyway I coness I do not understand what you are complaining about. Would you rather have “république française” or “République Française?”

      Oh, and it’s definitely “La Bohème”, Cap B.

    • Der Fliegende Amerikaner says:

      I have a dumb question….

      Why do the Met and Covent Garden use different rules for using capital letters? For example from this season:

      Met: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
      ROH: Il barbiere di Siviglia

      La Traviata
      La traviata

      • Cuban Stallion says:

        I am not an expert, but I believe this may be because the ROH is faithful to the rules associated with the libretto’s original language and that the Met uses the American rule of capitalising every word of a title except for (and please note: rules differ here) articles, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions and “to” as part of an infinitive (except if they are the first or last word of a title, then you capitalise them). Oy vey.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    When he cancelled in Baden-Baden on July 7th and 10th, we just got to see/hear two replacements. Both of whom were excellent. There was no talk of refunds.

  • Lyn Shepherd says:

    I also feel for those who are traveling to Paris for this, with all the expense involved beyond the ticket price. We saw Jonas Kaufmann in La Traviata in Munich some years ago, booking specially. My heart had sunk when at the beginning a guy appeared on stage with an announcement. “The good news” was that messrs Kaufmann and Keenleyside would be singing. But not Angela Gheorghiu, who cancelled…..what a surprise! She was replaced by someone who had already done the same elsewhere, my neighbour told me. That, plus Diana Damrau’s pulling out, in advance but after we had bought the tickets, from an opera at the Liceu, has put me off buying just to see a big name singer. The Kaufmann cancellation that sticks in my mind was of the performance in front of the Brandenburg Gate on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said extra rehearsals made it impossible to travel from Munich…. although surely in Munich they would see the significance of the day? In any case, just five days later he was able to travel to Berlin for the “Bambi” awards ceremony!

  • Una says:

    There should be no refunds. They should go and see the opera, not the individual singer, whether it’s in capital letters or not!! Such a snub to the replacement if people don’t go.

    • Marg says:

      Disagree, when you’ve paid a heavily inflated price for the superstar.

      • RW2013 says:

        Do you think Lyndon will refund your inflated $s when JK cancels his Sydney Parsifal?

        • Marg says:

          Unfortunately no, I don’t expect it, and I think the chances of JK being a no-show are quite possible given his cancelation history. But it doesn’t alter my view that having paid a ridiculously high ticket price for the name some compensation is called for. I couldn’t care less about Parsifal, I’m going to hear Jonas K. As are many.

          • RW2013 says:

            “I couldn’t care less about Parsifal, I’m going to hear Jonas K. As are many.”

            I don’t believe I’ve just read this.

          • Barbara Lovett says:

            People who couldn’t care less about Parsifal should pay an extra premium to be allowed into an opera house.

          • Peter says:

            You surely mean you care about seeing him, not hearing him, right?

  • John Dalkas says:

    Some Paris concert halls give refunds without carping. In March 2015 Menahem Pressler canceled his recital at Le Théâtre des Champs Elysées, and was replaced by Michel Dalberto. Ticket holders received an e-mail informing us of the change of artist but without offering a refund. I responded writing (shortened version but verbatim):

    Vu le changement d’interprète, je vous remercie de bien vouloir m’indiquer les modalités de remboursement de mes deux places.

    Answer less than an hour later:

    Merci de bien vouloir nous retourner vos places pour remboursement


    Valérie Turban

    Service des Relations avec le Public

    Responsable de la Gestion des salles et Billetterie

    No muss, no fuss, full refund received promptly. So maybe when you’re a private house (although owned in this case by a public body, La Caisse des Dépôts), you’re more responsive to your customers’ wishes.

    • Barbara Lovett says:

      There is a difference between cancelling a recital and cancelling a part in an opera. Opera houses offer refunds when the performance is changed i.e. when it is Butterfly instead of Parsifal but not if Parsifal is sung by a different singer. It would be ludicrous to give refunds each time there is a change in the cast.

  • Lois Silverstein says:

    money is money, tickets are tickets, yes, but here’s a real person whose injury to his voice is more than threatening. Let us put our energy into hoping he will recover and continue to pour his energy and gifts into our lives for a long time to come. Let us offer him all our confidence for a full recovery.

  • Leon Waksberg says:

    I would sympathise if the replacement was neither well known or good, but Ramon Vargas is a superb tenor, so, to be blunt, I don’t see what the problem is.

  • LoisFreia says:

    Let us send our wishes and energy to the ill singer, missed and wanted on stage again soon. May he be well and all who help him and others.