Tough night for Kaufmann at Carnegie Hall

Tough night for Kaufmann at Carnegie Hall


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2018

The NY Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote that ‘vocal glitches and moments of tightness started creeping into Mr. Kaufmann’s singing. They continued throughout this sometimes frustrating performance.’

New York Classical Review said the German tenor was halfway through  Die Schöne Müllerin before he was properly warmed up.

Read here and here.



  • Wiebke Göetjes says:

    Poor Jonas Kaufmann. We singers are not computers. He probably felt terrible. I am sure he will be fine soon.

  • Olassus says:

    Tommasini understands piano. Voice not so much. He was told to bash Jonas Kaufmann by his bosses at the NYT in service to the Met, which has suffered several seasons of JK cancellations and withdrawals.

  • Jonatan Horvat (Wagnerjabin) says:

    I heard a recording of Wagner’s Parsifal some time ago at the Met and I just don’t like his voice, he is rather a baritone that wants to be a tenor. This seems to no problem, when he sings Wagner, but it is when he attempts to sing Verdi or Puccini. By the way, I have written an entry on my blog on Wagner’s Parsifal. Feel free to enjoy it!

    Jonatan Horvat (Wagnerjabin)

    • Olassus says:

      For a masquerading baritone, Jonas Kaufmann has had quite a nerve singing the TENOR parts in:
      Bach’s Johannes-Passion and Matthäus-Passion,
      Haydn’s Die Schöpfung,
      the Mozart Requiem,
      Beethoven’s Ninth, and the Missa solemnis,
      Schubert’s E-flat Mass,
      Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust and Grande messe des morts,
      Mendelssohn’s Elias, Paulus, and Lobgesang Symphony,
      Brahms’s Rinaldo-Kantate,
      Liszt’s Faust-Symphonie,
      Bruckner’s F-Minor Mass,
      the Verdi Requiem,
      the Dvořák Requiem, and
      Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
      … not to mention:
      Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea;
      Mozart’s Belmonte, Ferrando, Idomeneo, Ottavio, Tamino and Tito;
      Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia;
      Donizetti’s Nemorino;
      Jaquino and Florestan in Fidelio;
      Schubert’s Fierrabras;
      Max in Der Freischütz;
      Wagner’s Lohengrin, Stolzing, Siegmund and Parsifal;
      Alfredo in La traviata, the Duca in Rigoletto, Carlo in I masnadieri, Manrico in Il trovatore, Alvaro in La forza del destino, Radamès in Aida, Carlos in Don Carlos, Cassio and Otello in Otello, and Fenton in Falstaff;
      Massenet’s Des Grieux and Werther;
      Faust in Gounod’s Faust;
      Don José in Carmen;
      Mascagni’s Turiddu;
      Leoncavallo’s Canio;
      Puccini’s Des Grieux, Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Pinkerton, Johnson and Ruggero;
      Giordano’s Andrea Chénier;
      Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur;
      Alfred in Die Fledermaus;
      Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos and Flamand in Capriccio; and last but not lowest,
      Andres in Wozzeck.

    • martain smith says:

      He’s a lyric tenor making big bucks by weighting-up his mid-range in the hope of passing as a Spinto of even a Heldentenor.

      Otello, Tristan…!!!

      Think Melchior, Lorenz, Svanholm, Vickers – but then again….

      think 21C. marketing!

  • herrera says:

    What’s the point of being the King of Cancellations if you don’t cancel the right ones?

  • L. Halverson says:

    I was at the performance and it was wonderful. All this poo-pooing by the NYT is nonsense. Yes, Kaufmann did perform the first half of the cycle with a lighter voice, but it was an interpretive decision, not a technical problem – or a lack of warming up. Period. And I thought the encores were beautiful.

    • Sue says:

      All of this is a reminder of how demanding and savage classical music audiences can be!! They know what they want and watch out the performer who cannot ‘measure up’!! Well, that’s is as it should be, I guess, but we must be wary not to turn music into some kind of spectator sport like tennis (which I’m currently enjoying with the Australian Open).

      • Isabel Pato says:

        “demanding and savage”.. “watch out the performer who cannot ‘measure up’!”..
        Well, that clearly didin’t happened here! The audience didn’t agree at all with these 2 critics! Listen and Watch how the public greeted him at the final of the recital, and “force” him to sing 4 encores.. You have a video at YouTube. Go there and enjoy the long and exuberant applause. That kind applause means that the audience knew what they wanted and they got it !!

  • Isabel Pato says:

    I Heard the recital. Not an 100% inspired night for sure. Some problems and many great moments. At the end of the day, what counts? What do you value more ~ the parts or the whole? The NYT valued the cancellations and the negative details ; the New York Classical Review expressed a much more balanced account of the recital,IMO..And the public decided for the Whole ,and greeted him with thunderous applause! I also always prefer to value the whole performance. Encores…no, it’s not usual. But I appreciate the generosity of the singer.After a long absence, it was a tribute to the American audience and the emotional standing ovation! Besides, they were beautifully sung. Always a great pleasure, listening to his voice ~even when it doesn’t follow Tradition.

  • Rob says:

    Give him Mahler 8, let’s hear what he can do. Only Riegel has come close to Kollo and yet nobody can touch Kollo. Kollo on top of the Mahler 8 mountain.

    • Anon says:

      What nonsense. The better musical parts of Mahler 8 – and there are some – are the ones where there is no tenor screaming on top of the hill that is trying to masquerade as a mountain.

  • Rog says:

    Here’s the thing, Mr Lebrecht. Would you have posted anything about this if the reviews had been good? Or are you just gleefully drawn to any apparent sign of weakness? Given that you apparently weren’t there to judge for yourself, what is the point of this posting?
    I write as someone who is ambivalent about Kaufmann, certainly not an uncritical fan. I just don’t like the flavour of much of your blogging activity.