Jonas Kaufmann opens season with a cold cancellation

Jonas Kaufmann opens season with a cold cancellation


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2017

Message from the German tenor:

Dear Friends,

I am so sorry that I was obliged to cancel my appearance at the prestigious George Enescu Festival due to a bad cold, and I deeply regret that any of you feel left down. I can very well understand that all those who have gone to great expense for traveling and tickets are very disappointed. Please do know that I am extremely disappointed as well to have to forego the pleasure and privilege to sing for you. We will do everything we can to find a new date for a recital at the Festival in 2019.
Jonas Kaufmann


UPDATE: We hear from a disappointed party of German visitors that Kaufmann cancelled too late for a replacement to be inserted. The festival has offered money back for their tickets, but not for their air fares and hotels.


  • stan says:

    he getting to a big pain again i do not fell like singing so i have a cold it is getting out hand

  • Medi Gasteiner says:

    I am in Bucarest with 15 guests for Palco Reale tonight was Mehta / Bunatshivili and we also have tickets for tomorrow Jonas Kaufmann – cancels his only Liederabend..again.

  • Emil says:

    Nice of him to promise to find another suitable date. He cancelled at a day’s notice in Montreal in 2013 and promised that his agent was communicating with the Montreal Opera to find another suitable date; he hasn’t been back yet.

    I get that singers’ schedules fill in 3-5 years in advance. But if you promise to reschedule your recital (especially in a city where you almost never come – such as Montreal), do it and don’t give us empty words.

    • Waltraud Riegler says:

      He did it on many places, but there must be a chance for all, him, his orchestra or pianist, the house a.s.o. Going to Montreal also has to be connected with another date on the American continent……

      • Emil says:

        It’s been 5 years now. I’m sure he’s been back at the Met at least once in the past five years (and yes, there are millions of direct flight connections between Montreal and NY – YNS regularly comes up to Montreal while rehearsing in NY or Philadelphia).

        It’s a matter of respect – if he wanted it to happen, he’d make it happen (and we have plenty of very talented Montreal-based accompanists, and I’m sure any of the two symphony orchestras – which both collaborate every year with the Montreal Opera, which put on the initial recital – would be more than happy to make time in their schedules to accommodate Mr Kaufmann). So my point is that it is dishonest to promise to find a date, and then never bother to come back.

    • Thomasina says:

      He postponed the concerts in Japan twice. The next schedule announced is January…but in the big cities of Japan, it’s the season of the influenza epidemic!

      • Waltraud Riegler says:

        Only once, now the new date is January 2018. The other one he did in Spring 2015.

        • Thomasina says:

          No, he postponed in November 2016 and in August 2017. My mother is a Japanese and I can read her language.

          • Thomasina says:

            Oh, very sorry. Maybe did I misunderstand the word ” Only once”?

          • Waltraud Riegler says:

            There never was a concertg scheduled in Japan in August, as he was in Australia. Perhaps they had the idea to put in the missed dates from Nov. 2016, but it never was really fixed.

          • Thomasina says:

            According to the site of, the concert date was August 23rd(in Osaka) and 25,28th(in Tokyo). But they announced postponement (depending on his doctor’s advice) in April. I imagine it was so hard to come to Japan after Australia.

  • Martain Smith says:

    Retrieve your ticket outlay and buy a CD with Gedda, Wunderlich or any other “greats” – a better investment!

    • Emil says:

      Problem: Nicolai Gedda and Fritz Wunderlich have been quite inactive on the concert trail lately, and many (like myself) tend to enjoy live music.

      • martain smith says:

        Sadly, for “live” you’re generally going to have to dearly pay by lowering artistic standards…chacun à son goût!

  • Sue says:

    It’s beginning to look like Kaufmann can’t handle the pressure of all the engagements.

  • Dave says:

    Sweet Jesus! Time for him to find a different occupation.

  • MacroV says:

    People get sick. And it tends to affect a singer more than an instrumentalist. People on this blog presumably know enough about music (and physiology) to understand that.

    I understand the inconvenience to people who bought tickets, but I do appreciate the integrity of an artist who feels he/she can’t deliver an optimal performance, so cancels/postpones – and I assume in the case of someone like Kaufmann, forgoes a pretty healthy fee in the process. How many people here would start railing against him if he showed up sick and sang poorly?

    He should definitely make a priority of finding a new date for Montreal, though.

    • Waltraud Riegler says:

      Even “holy Anna” was ill (after Waldbühne) and cancelled the first Trovatore in Vienna

      • Waltraud Riegler says:

        And that lady also cancelled something (do not remember exactly what, may bein Paris) last season for “personal reasons” -> Gergiev opening his music hall!! Audience has bought and paid Anna-Tickets!!!

    • Joan Haley says:

      Yes he shoud come to Montreal Prov.Quebec,Canada

    • Zsuzsanna says:

      The two vocal chords are fine little things, but if they get ill definitively, the singer becomes totally inactive . Mr. Kaufmann has
      his two fantastically functioning chords and a big family lives of it. I can’t find bigger tragedy for a singer (especially on Mr. Kaufmann’s niveau, with his energy emotions and acting talent) to loose this possibility. So I think, we who like him can only wish him recovery as soon as possible. The duration of resorption for a hematoma can take 6 month so we must wait with patience.

  • Una says:

    Singers get colds like anyone else and I ahve one too at the moment but it doesn’t matter about me – I am not an international singer on his level. As the singing teachers I had who were in their time, they say to me it’s a cruel world today. In their day when there was no internet or mobile phones to record surrepticiously or not, and all the rest, they would soldier on because the worst that would ever happen is a bad review, if they were unlucky, and the end of it. Today, every single note, every single move one make’s is recorded and dissected on the internet, often by people who place these singers – or rather human beings whose instrument is always vulnerable – on pedestals like gods, never met them, don’t really know them as human beings, and then try to knock them down. No one is dispensable in this world, and no one is immortal. And all that only entices singers, whoever they are, to cancel more as a result or keep making announcements, which are multiply by the year. You die it you do, and you die if you don’t in today’s world. Wish him well, and know exactly how he must feel. You can’t play any wind instrument if you have a heavy cold let alone sing.

  • Ellingtonia says:

    Another diva who its over indulged, out will trot all the apologists for his “illness” which happens to be the common cold.Time he got off his arse and made a bit of an effort……….but I forgot he is an indulged opera singer. Perhaps he should take a leaf out of Dave Grohls (Foo Fighters singer) book and do what he did when he fell off stage and broke his leg, he got back on stage and continued the performance so as not to disappoint the fans. Methinks too many of these opera singers are a bunch of wimps!

  • Ellingtonia says:

    From yesterdays Daily Telegraph, most illuminating interview with Barbara Hannigan “You could never imagine Hannigan pulling out of a performance. She has a “show must go on” mentality and speaks laconically about those world-famous divas – of both genders – who are prone to last-minute cancellations. “As a professional, if you’re 80 per cent OK, you’ve got to go out there. There will always be a reason why you don’t feel 100 per cent.”

    • waltraud riegler says:

      On Your !update”: should he have cancelled in advance? Waking up with headache and/or sore throat and/or coughing is what everyone of us has experienced. Then it is time to stop and to cancel, not before!

    • waltraud riegler says:

      I do not want to say anything against the great artist Barbara Hannigen, but would she have sung Schöne Müllerin? No, her repertory is very different and not to compare with Schubert Lieder.

      • Ellingtonia says:

        Now you are just being a sycophantic apologist for someone too idle to get off their arse and make an effort!

        • Anon says:

          What a most ignorant comment. You know obviously nothing about professional singing on the highest level.

          • Ellingtonia says:

            I may have limited technical knowledge of singing (but that is not what is under discussion) but I recognise a narcissistic dilettante when I see one. If a simple “cold” lays this man low he must have led a very sheltered life!

  • austė says:

    Nobody else cancels so oft in his league. There are people who count:))

  • Sanity says:

    Mr Kaufmann seems to employ an ‘ingolato’ technique (as opposed to the classical Italian technique championed by Garcia) that relies on a great deal of compression in the throat to produce a darkened sound and an approximation of the ‘chiusa’. Such a technique can, in extreme circumstances, rupture the vocal cords. More routinely, it wears their edges and leaves the singer highly susceptible to colds, throat infections and laryngitis.

    The ingolato technique is being taught by many teachers in order to bring singers to market more quickly. However, most singers singing with this technique will have finished their careers by 50, have little dynamic range and sing with less grace and elegance.

    The pursuit of the quick, ‘star’ career, is very damaging to opera as an art form.

    • Jackyt says:

      That is fascinating about the ingolato technique. I’d never come across it before. Can you refer us to a place we might read more about it? Do you know any other singers who use this technique? Do female voices employ it, too? Sorry, so many questions!

      • Sanity says:

        There is much and disparate information on the web about ‘ingolato’ techniques. There are even videos on YouTube that compare singers like Kaufmann and Cura to classical singers like Pavarotti and Pertile. It’s a horrible development in opera and is robbing us of true performances of Verdi and the belcanto repertoire and pushing singers into near penury in their later careers. For every Kaufmann, there are hundreds of tenors who never made it and are sung out early.

        Any voice type can use the ‘ingolato’ technique (and it is not just one technique, but a broad term for all techniques that create compression in the throat).

        In a classical technique, the soft palate rises as the voice rises and falls as it falls and the larynx tilts back and forth as the voice moves up and down through the passaggio. The voice is a mixture of head and chest registers throughout the complete range of the voice – what Garcia calls veiling. The rounding of the voice is caused by the chiusa (projecting the voice into the hard palate and the back of the top set of teeth. Vowels are formed by the tongue and are short and forward (as they always are in Italian).

        Best place to start is here: ; but you will need to go right back to the first post.

    • Martain Smith says:

      Bravo Sanity!

      Excellent analysis and your comparisons are perfectly justified!

      In a word, “manipulation” is the issue – and it may produce effect – but never true expression!

      • Sanity says:

        Importantly, Ingolato techniques don’t produce the ‘Blade’, the cluster of ‘formants’ that make a voice recognisable and emotive. Humans tend to mostly only hear these formants (much like sight, their brain fills in the rest). This means that an audience listening to a bladed singer is automatically emotionally engaged. The elder amongst us remember rapturous ovations and people crying out in joy or angst. Now, those attending a performance respond because they have told themselves they must. An opera audience today is far more staid, restrained and does not care if it hears the opera in the ideal of the theatre on the convenient local cinema.

        • Jackyt says:

          “An opera audience today is far more staid, restrained and does not care if it hears the opera in the ideal of the theatre on the convenient local cinema” unless, of course, JDF is singing, in which case the audience cannot restrain themselves!

    • Marshall says:

      I don’t know if I agree with the entire explanation, but I’m glad that someone else is looking for an explanation in the way he sings. I’ve said here and elsewhere, for years that al Kaufmann’s cancellations and problems must be related to his odd technique. There is a whole generation of throat bound tenors (didn’t they ever listen to tenors of the past?) and in time it can’t be a healthy technique. Kaufmann often sounds as if he’s singing with 3 different voices. While I think he can be attractive in certain German roles, I’ve never found him convincing as an Italian spinto.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Lichtsohn du,
    leicht gefügter!
    Hör’ und hüte dich:
    Verträgen halte Treu’!
    Was du bist,
    bist du nur durch Verträge;
    bedungen ist,
    wohl bedacht deine Macht.

    all deinem Wissen fluch’ ich,
    fliehe weit deinen Frieden,
    weisst du nicht offen,
    ehrlich und frei
    Verträgen zu wahren die Treu’! –

  • RFisher says:

    This guy needs to find another line of work. Singers get colds. I know that; I’ve worked and studied with them most of my life, but this guy is constantly cancelling due to illness. I’m surprised anybody even considers him for a gig.

  • Eileen Powrie says:

    I think it sad that so much vitriol comes from so many.