Meet Jonas Kaufmann’s charming agents

Meet Jonas Kaufmann’s charming agents


norman lebrecht

March 09, 2017

From Michael Cooper’s NY Times investigation of why the German tenor cancelled the Met:

One of Mr. Kaufmann’s managers, Alan Green of Zemsky/Green Artists Management, declined to speak on the phone or to explain why Mr. Kaufmann had not withdrawn before the Met’s season announcement.

The agent who never answers the phone…




  • Olassus says:

    The reason “star singers can drive up attendance by 10 to 20 percentage points” (Cooper) is that attendance wasn’t 100% at the start of the season, sold on subscription.

    The company sadly has a marketing moron at its helm who hasn’t figured out in all these seasons — 10? — that you can’t sell a season one performance at a time.

    Present vision and policies compel it to spend a fortune on selling, with ever decreasing returns.

    Start over!


  • Olassus says:

    Gelb’s declining of Kaufmann’s reasonable offer to sing four of the Cavaradossis was also incredibly stupid, something his flexible and more successful colleague Bachler would never have done.

    Boy, do they need to get rid of him!

    • Loretta says:

      So you throw over the guy who bailed you out just because the other fellow says he ‘might’ be able to fill in a few performances? Don’t forget he’s cancelled out the past three seasons. Grigolo was good enough to fill in for Kaufmann and deserves to also have the plum HD night, too. I think Mr. Gelb showed professionalism, loyalty and good sense in handling the situation, even if we love Kaufmann’s singing. Guess we’ll just have to go to Europe.

      • MWnyc says:

        Especially since there’s no guarantee that Kaufmann would actually show up for those four performances. And by the time he cancelled, there’s no telling if Grigolo would still be available.

  • Malaika says:

    Kaufmanns four performances would have included the “live in cinema” worldwide transmission. Maybe Vittorio Grigolo was not happy with this. It’s not easy to please everybody!!

  • Helen Dutton says:

    But who wants Grigolo when you could have Kaufmann?

    • Waltraud Becker says:


    • Cynical Bystander says:

      I suppose it depends on which is more likely to turn up. Seems that Grigolo is only too happy to give his not inconsiderable all to an audience that clearly likes him. As to Kaufman, promising 4 with the possibility of no shows is disrespectful to both the audience and whoever steps into the void.

      • Mike Schachter says:

        Totally agree. He may be a finer tenor than Grigolo, who on the other tends to turn up. Surely of some relevance? And treating Kaufman’s replacement as disposable is surely disrespectful and arrogant.

    • Jackyt says:

      I’d choose Grigolo. He’s terrific. Voice, charisma and masses of energy.

  • Anonymous says:

    I thought Alan was meant to be the nice one…

    • Simon says:

      Nice has nothing to do with it. Alan Green was doing what a good agent is supposed to do – advocate for the client. Declining to comment to the Times is not a criminal act it’s just being smart.

  • Tinkerbell says:

    Kaufmann was largely ignored by his hometown until his career took off after Met 2006 appearance. Zurich was very good to him in the early years but that too seems history. The family bit? Many singers manage to retain intact families and have great careers. As they say ….absence makes the heart grow fonder … of another. NY will have to survive without the greatest tenor in the world.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      NY will also have to very soon learn to survive without their Renée Fleming who has announced her retirement from staged opera. And quite possibly too without their Anna Netrebko. In any case, their absences may be warranted as both find themselves in steep vocal decline.

    • Waltraud Becker says:

      Kaufmann was ignored by München as long as a certain person was Intendant there. This changed with Bachler,has nothing to do with the Met.

  • Richard says:

    Kaufmann is great…when he shows up. I’ll be in London this summer and I’m not going to gamble on Otello tickets. I’ll stick with the certainty of a good Traviata that is happening at the same time. A decent Traviata is more attractive than a Otello without an Otello.

  • Brian B says:

    I’m not sure I blame Kaufmann’s agents. I’m sure they have their hands full and obviously their client wants it this way.

  • Save the MET says:

    Based upon the story I’m hearing from within, Gelb has not been forthright, or honest with the public in his announcement. Will be interesting to see who speaks first, but it appears once again, the Voldemort of opera gm’s has been duplicitous once again. Then again, we expect that from him at this point.

    • liloloperaluv says:

      I suspect there is much “behind closed doors” that the audience never knows about. Information is like an iceberg, we only see the tip, but that tip should at least be the truth (but not the whole truth).

  • Peter Feldman says:

    I am sorry that Jonas Kaufmann has family problems but if he wants an international career he must solve his problems because cancellations in short time are very unprofessional.

    • liloloperaluv says:

      He did not say he had family “problems”. He said he CHOSE to stay close to his family. If you read his interviews, he said he was changing/reversing his life. In the past he travelled a great deal, in some years he was gone 2/3+. His marriage ended. He now has new attachments and he is doing the opposite by staying close. He can afford to make this change, most singers could not. His Tristan (concert) in April, 2018 is US/Can fans best chance to experience him live. In the meantime, streaming form München, Wien will have to do.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      A singer can have a very good career without singing at the Met: there are many top venues in Europe. Kaufmann is saying he doesn’t want to spend long periods away from his family. If he sings in London or Paris, he can fly home between performances, or between rehearsals, since it is a short flight away.

  • OldSchool says:

    The agents do whatever he wants. Despite all the legion (a quote from a Met retiree) of careers mishandled or willfully destroyed, for the top stars on the roster, the agency is at beck and call. So, responses, or lack thereof, are damage control.

    Grigolo in fact has the more cutting instrument, easily apparent when both are audited in an unadulterated acoustic. I am not a fan of “forward” “placement” (both terms in quotes on purpose), but it tends to serve Grigolo far better than the darkened, chronically “ingolato” treatment of what is, at the end of the day, a middle-lyric voice which used to have, an age ago, enormous facility and mobility in the correct repertoire.