Now Jonas Kaufmann cancels the Met

Now Jonas Kaufmann cancels the Met


norman lebrecht

March 04, 2017

The German tenor has withdrawn from next season’s Tosca in New York ‘because of his personal life and professional obligations.’

Peter Gelb has replaced him with Vittorio Grigolo but this will be the fourth successive season that the world’s most sought-after tenor has failed to appear at the Metropolitan Opera.

Kaufmann will, however, sing at Carnegie Hall.



  • Peter Owen says:

    He has a beautiful and velvety lyric tenor coupled with great musicianship. But why do a Pavarotti/Caballe et al and risk it tackling the heavy stuff?

  • Ungeheuer says:

    I wouldn’t count on the CH date. His presumed future Otellos are ill advised. Goes without saying.

  • sk says:

    jh will never sing at the met he does like the house or staff that runs it do not count him down the road. it says it all cxl the met but will sing at ch sk

  • Will says:

    The Carnegie performance is the second act of Tristan with the Boston Symphony, April 12, 2018. Presumably following several performances in Boston not yet announced. Anything else?

    • Waltraud Becker says:

      The first CH date is 20. January (Liederabend). JK´s management has offered some Toscas around that. To the concert with BSO in NY: there will be one before in Boston (no date till now). Tosca: rehresals are during Christmas-time. Perhaps he was thinking of other dates (see offerings to Gelb), but being with the kids grew more imprtant the last few years to him. The management should have informed the Met earlier…….

      Slipped disc generally: I misses Your blog when JK´s comeback in Paris and London took place. Where have You been?

  • Lydia Wahlberg says:

    Ah Will, he’ll probably cancel that too.

  • Nick says:

    Opera companies, agents and PR companies coin a wonderful variety of phrases to cover withdrawals and illness. I really do wonder what “personal life and professional obligations” really means, though. In the NY Times article he states ““I feel that I cannot allow myself to have such long periods away from my family at this time.” Sure the run of performances over an entire month and a couple of weeks rehearsals (reduced for him no doubt) is a long time. But again I wonder what is different now from the time he signed the contract – or even a few weeks or months ago.

    As for “professional obligations”, these also presumably arose after the contract was signed. It sounds too like Peter Owen’s suggestion that he is doing a Pavarotti and better offers came along nearer to home.

  • Olassus says:

    This is a one-man repudiation of the Met’s 5-years-in-advance thinking and attempts at control.


    • Nick says:

      Nonsense! Contracting far in advance is far more usually the result of agents bowing to supply and demand factors. With an in-demand artist, a performing company has little option but agree to book far in advance – or miss out. Perhaps the Met should do what the Lyric Opera did to Pavarotti in 1989 after he had cancelled 26 of his last 41 scheduled appearances. Ban him!

      • Olassus says:

        Little option? The Met has plenty of options, including finding and advancing its own talent.

        • Nick says:

          You twist my words to suit your own agenda. Of course the Met could develop its own ensemble. O partly agree with you. I would prefer if it reverted to the system of around 40 years ago when it had both an ensemble and guest artists. Relying on guest artists when casting entire operas is wasteful and unnecessary.

  • Sue says:

    Carlos Kleiber was nicknamed by the Japanese as “cancellation devil”. It seems Kaufmann is eager to beat Kleiber’s record.

  • Old School says:

    One imagines he is remunerated sufficiently to bring his children (the referenced “family”) to him during some of his times of employment away from them, pending their schooling schedules.

    • Waltraud Becker says:

      Why should he move the boys (the daughter should have finished school then) when he can stay at home?

  • RON KRAUSE says:

    Though I defer to no one in my admiration for Mr. Kaufmann’s artistry, all of the excuses and apologies in the world don’t change the fact that he has little regard for his contractual obligations or the impact of his chronic cancellations on the theaters, which in some cases have mounted new productions at his specific request, and his fans, many of whom have spent hard earned money to purchase tickets and/or travel long distances to attend his performances. If he doesn’t wish to sing in the USA, in general, or the Met, in particular, he shouldn’t enter into contracts to do so. His conduct is both irresponsible and unprofessional.

  • John Kelly says:

    A disappointment. It was to be a good cast – Opolais, Kaufmann and Terfel (and others). Still, Grigolo has been singing just fantastically well this season, both in Romeo and Juliet and also Werther. Just stellar stuff. I am happy to hear him, this is like substituting Messi with Aguero. Perfectly OK.

    I would also give a shout out to “talent the Met has developed” (i.e. former winner of the annual “contest”) – Michael Fabiano. Wonderful and I mean as good as Grigolo in Traviata on Saturday night. This guy has some squillo and gives 110% percent. The real deal. One day when he wants a slightly heavier role he could take a crack at Cavaradossi. He sings Rodolfo perfectly well.

    • A Physician in NY says:

      JK is a disappointment, brilliant voice but unfortunately unreliable. Either you sign a contract and than you stand by it – or you don’t commit. Domingo was almost perfect in that. As for Fabiano – nice voice but I recently heard him and he was unsteady in the first act, bordering on being off pitch. Certainly no replacement for JK. Grigio though is quite something.

  • Ivy Potter says:

    I think it’s completely fair enough that he should want time off. It’s not like he’s an automaton who doesn’t have a personal live at all. When one has a job that big, then it’s just human nature to want to get out of it (even if one loves it) and do stuff with ones children.

  • michaelmarcus says:

    Alas with Yonas it has to be ‘buyer beware’. I spent 3 hours in line at the Met for Werther two years ago only to discover as I purchased my tickets that he had just canceled. There can be no expectation for Mr. Kaufman when his life remains in upheaval in every way.
    We can only rely on recordings, videos and live broadcasts that are guaranteed. He will someday learn that fame can be ephemeral. The next Yonas, Pavoratti, Caruso is ready and waiting to be heard.

  • Florestanman says:

    So bizarre hearing panicked fans express the tragedies of Kaufmann’s cancellations, especially with comparison to Pavarotti. I’ve heard him in 14 different roles between London and New York and to be honest I’ve never liked him. The fact that he’s still singing after singing everything as badly as he did, is a complete surprise to me and I’m just happy he’s keeping his schedule to the German houses. Definitely not looking forward to hearing the throaty attempt at Otello he’ll be giving at the garden, which is a shame because the desdemona will be fantastic.

    • Helen Dutton says:

      Don’t know what is wrong with your ears! Maybe you should see an audiologist. Also if you hate JK so much
      why oh why have you been to hear him so many times? Anyway I am pleased to say you are very much in the minority and obviously no judge of great singing and musical refinement.

  • A Physician in NY says:

    As for the Covent Garden performances of Otello – that is quite something. Sold out before even one ticket made it into the sale even for patrons of the opera, not to mention mere mortals… Not sure if I like that policy of CG. Would not happen in NY or German houses.