If you an opera buff, you must watch this tonight

If you an opera buff, you must watch this tonight


norman lebrecht

December 02, 2018

We don’t often tell readers how to spend their precious time, but Jonas Kaufmann’s Otello is the talking point of the year and this is your chance to watch it live.

Especially since some think he’s eclipsed by Gerald Finley’s Iago.

Click here.

At 7pm Munich time, 6pm London, 1pm New York.

Be there.

Send live comments through the show.

Watch trailer:


  • Jackyt says:

    It’s also available for 24 hours afterwards, for those attending Advent services at 6pm.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Or lighting Chanukah candles

      • Ms.Melody says:

        Just watched act one and listened to the duet
        The production is regie-bizarre, looks cheap and ugly. Full of symbolism that only the director understands. Kauffman is in fine form at least through my speakers. In PC white face, of course. Anja warned up as the duet progressed.
        Gerald Finley is excellent. Why is there a bed in every scene?
        For a few moments the picture went dark and it felt good. If only we could put these singers in a normal production.

  • Jackyt says:

    I was mistaken, but can’t edit my comment. The VOD begins on Monday, not straight afterwards:
    “24 hours video on demand
    The performance will be available as VOD with subtitles in German, in English and without subtitles from 3 December, 12 pm (noon) to 4 December, 11.59 am.”

  • Jane says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht,

    Did Mr Kaufmann miss you off last year’s Christmas card list? You always seem to find room to unnecessarily needle or dig. Curious as to why .

    All best,


  • CapeCod says:

    All voices in fine form, the set annoying at best. Prefer Bartlett Sher’s use of mobile glass walls to achieve scene/location changes as seen in Met production, with more traditional costumes.
    Thank you for this link.

  • Sibyl says:

    No, I don’t think so. Last time I listened to Mr K. I was kind of sad about how “odd” his once so beautiful voice sounded and how he worked with it. La voce – and I do remember how lovely it was as he sang repertoire suiting it! – sounded overstrained and pressed and while the middle range reminded on his good times, the upper wasn’t a joy to listen to and in the deep breast register … well, if I want to listen to a Baritone I take a real one.
    I actually don’t understand this hype around this tenor. Of course, good tenors are rare and in the moment they don’t fall out of the rafters. Yet it doesn’t put Mr K. above every critic, doesn’t it?

    • Saskia Ellmer says:

      You are so right, I couldn’t have said it better. You describe exactly what I feel since long time. Another astonishment about Mr. K. beside his rather destroyed voice, is his strange way to interpret his roles last time. He always seems to feel a little bored and without any enthusiasm. Maybe he’s tired of all those boring stage directions he has to go through or there’s anything else what bothers him. Anyway, it’s unfair to play the famous star but not to give the very best, not in the play and unfortunately not in the voice, what he isn’t able to since long time.

  • anon says:

    Am I the only one to think that neither Kaufmann nor Petrenko lived up to the hype?

    It didn’t help that this production made no sense.

    Kaufmann’s Otello wears what can only be described as a bus driver uniform, looking like a paunchy factory manager going through a midlife crisis, coming home sweaty and exhausted after a long day of work, meekly asking Desdemona, who looks more cougar then virgin, for “un baccio” before no doubt, immediately falling asleep and snoring away until the alarm clock goes off.

    I get it, black face is bad, sexualizing black men is bad, and we shouldn’t do it, but Kaufmann just looked like he spends his days in a windowless office overlooking the factory floor, which just doesn’t create any appearance of sexual tension with Desdemona. No wonder this Otello is so insecure, any wife would leave him.

    Otello spends more time on the bed with Iago and embracing him then with Desdemona.

    • Caravaggio says:

      No you are not the only one. I read somewhere on You Tube yesterday that the work sounded like Rosenkavalier in Petrenko’s hands (“transparent and modern-day Teutonic”). I LOLed because so right on. The YT commenter also said that in the production Iago had the hots for both Otello and Cassio. And I think the person was right again based on what I saw during the stream. Kaufmann, the You Tuber wrote, crooned his way through the role more times than should be considered decent (“back in the throat, strangulated, airless non-sound”). Right. And Harteros sounded squally for the most part just as she did as Elsa last summer. She sang better through the Willow Song-Ave Maria but a case of too little too late. Finley was ok, more meh than ok, nothing special. He should stick to what he does best: the song recital. Folks used to bash Fischer-Dieskau for the offense of singing opera in “Liederabend mode”. Same thought about Finley.

  • Jeanette Neagu says:

    The staging has a very negative impact on the production. The singers really seem uncomfortable and I really enjoyed the radio version much better. Wish Kaufmann would be more particular in selecting the directors of his opera performances.

  • Graeme Withers says:

    Available on YouYube