Breaking: Jonas Kaufmann may be out of Covent Garden’s Forza

It’s the dress rehearsal today and the big man is missing.

There has been no official confirmation.


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  • Why don’t opera houses just blacklist this singer, then we may see a change in his enthusiasm and commitment to perform. His indispositions seem to occur with alarming regularity which suggests he either has a serious underlying medical problem or he just doesn’t give a “toss” about the paying public.

    • I fear it’s not his already famous arrogance, but a problem. Whenever I heard him in the last time his voice sounded rather overstrained and forced.
      (Waltraud, you mustn’t comment. We knew already you’d listen to him even if he’d crow like a raven)

      • You must not (!!!) comment, we already know that You do not like him. One little question: When have You heard him live? Have You ever heard him live?

        • Yes, I’m rather disappointed in him. He started well as a fine, lyric tenor and then he thought he should try roles too “heavy” for his voice. The result was that said voice is now rather overstressed – and that’s something I dislike. Also I dislike that I think him highly over-hyped.
          And yes, I’ve heard him live – with Diana Damrau (she was great, he wasn’t bad, but not as good as she was)and in New York. Actually in the last six or seven years I’ve always hoped his voice would recover, so I still try sometimes with him, so I know what I’m talking about.

          • Damrau might be good in german repertoire but definitely not in Italian! Kaufmann is fabulous in it and the only German ever who succeeded on a high level

          • Hate to break the news, but Windgassen has been singing in the Heavenly Choir since 1974

          • “The only German ever who succeeded on a high level” (????????????)
            Oh God Almighty, here’s another presumptuous fool who thought the world didn’t exist before he was born (!)

            Ever heard of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau? Or Hermann Prey? Cos I guess names such as Rudolf Schock and Fritz Wunderlich might be too obscure to you, right? And that is disregarding female counterparts such as Lotte Lehmann, Frieda Hempel, Tiana Lemnitz, Frida Leider, Martha Mödl, Elisabeth Grümmer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Hildegard Behrens and a long etcetera.

            And concerning your “knightly” nick, how about some true wagnerian heavy weighters such as Max Lorenz, Ludwig Suthaus and Wolfgang Windgassen?…
            Yes, there were “light weighters” too, such as René Kollo, Peter Hofmann and Siegfried Jerusalem, but their services to the worlds biggest theaters were indispensable, not mentioning the recording industry…

          • I’m totally with you, except when it comes to René Kollo. In young years I thought him a “light weighter” too, but I have to admit that I was a bit snobby and he with all his schlager and operetta … However, some of his Wagner was definitely more as “light weighted”.
            Besides you’ve forgotten the great German basses. I still remember Kurt Moll – and whenever I hear Beethoven 9 I think of him because I haven’t heard someone doing it so wonderfully as he did. And Schöpfung with Bernstein! One for the books I think.
            And because some people here will probably tell us we’re rattling skeletons: What about René Pape? What about Benjamin Appl and Johannes Kammerer (for naming some of the young talents now coming up)?

          • I agree absolutely!
            I’ve seen Kollo a couple of times, surviving his rather large wobble towards the last 15 years of his career, due to his pushing the voice to disastrous proportions (his vocal nature was afterall a purely lyric tenor), but he certainly
            compensated these heavy shortcomings with terrific acting and textualisation!

            But concerning basses (that I didn’t mention), it’s just that past german biggies like Ludwig Weber, Herbert Alsen, Gottlob Frick, Ferdinand Frantz, Kurt Böhme, Josef Greindl and Hans Hotter (who also sang Basso roles), or my favorite german “Bassi-cantanti” Franz Crass and Karl Ridderbusch (both are fabulous as Veit Pogner) and newly deceased Theo Adam (fabulous as Hans Sachs), might be way too alien to the guy with the “knightly nick” (!) – as for most of today’s readers of Opera News!…

            P.S: Let me also mention Hans Sotin, Peter Meven, Fritz Hübner, Manfred Schenk and Siegfried Vogel as superb “real” basses from Germany (!) – René Pape is not my cup of tea, frankly put.

      • Oh, You know more than most of us. I know a lot of cases, where some famous singers did not sing dress, but appeared at premiere……

        • Dear me, since when has it become custom to cancel the dress rehearsal? I’ve known some singers who marked there for sparing their voices and that’s okay. But not appearing – I don’t think that’s now accepted as the “star’s privilege”.

          • Marking – when sick – is often far worse for the voice than singing out, because the chords tend not to close properly when inflamed, and marking doesn’t provide enough energy to close them under those conditions. Not closing properly causes the edges to rub (rather than join), resulting in further swelling (in the same way a loose shoe gives you blisters, not a tight fitting one). So, he is sensible to do whatever it takes to protect the longevity of his instrument. He can’t replace it, after all. Respectfully, etc…

          • The vocal cords (the is no H in cord), should not touch at all. They should vibrate but not rub against one another.

            Best way to think of this is to imagine the cords like a classical trumpeter’s embouchure. The lips are slightly apart and a small stream of air causes them to vibrate, but NOT against one another.
            Changes in pitch are not caused by an increased flow of air, but by lengthening the vocal tract (and by extension, but not by a great deal, the cords) and increasing the speed of the flow of air, thus raising the frequency and, in turn, the pitch. The same technique is used by both classical trumpeters and old fashioned singers.

            A layman can see how this works by singing a long A vowel with their tongue flat, then arching their tongue to get the long E vowel. They will find that the pitch of the note should change by about a semi-tone.

            Some jazz trumpeters put their lips together to ‘buzz’. Their sound usually deteriorates early. Modern singers are being taught to ‘buzz’ with their vocal cords and this is damaging. The muscular imposition needed to do this also stops them raising their soft palate and lengthening their vocal tracts, causing them to use more breath to reach their upper register, which in turn causes even greater damage to the larynx.

            Hope this helps.

        • People like her thrive on tittle-tattle and spite. Nothing else to fill their lives between ‘Friends’ events and meetings of the Wagner Society.

          • so right – dress is a rehearsal and don’t think Mr Loy has anything important to tell a professional like Jonas! Loy may not even speak Italian

  • That man is about as reliable as an Italian tank. How many times does this sort of thing need to happen before his reputation is irreparably fractured?

      • Well, in the 35 years I’ve watched Sir Thomas Allen perform he once cancelled a recital in Munich and in 2012 he had to cancel a Cosi at ROH.
        And Pavlo Breslik rarely cancelled something, Erwin Schrott is known for being very reliable and in former times – Wolfgang Windgassen used to call every day the opera and asked if he was needed and when they needed him, he was there and sounded great (even as an older man).
        I think it’s a bit odd when someone emphasizes so much as you do that a singer didn’t cancel a performance for an entire year. You know it should be normal over many years!

        • Breslik has cancelled a lot last year. As far as I know Windgassen is not on stage anymore…..
          1 cancellation in 2 years is a rare phenomen. There are singers, who cancel to go to a “better” event, or leave productions 2 or 3 weeks before premiere, when they suddenly recognize that they do not know the text or have troubles with the director. Never heard that Kaufmann did something like that.

    • Sorry, but if he’d want Daddy time he should have planed it before and not with just cancelling a dress rehearsal.

      • You argue what You do not konw. I call that lie. If You have children You know, that one single day is not enough to raise them. That needs years.

        • I call that free opinion which actually is a human right, dear Waltraud. But I don’t want to discuss Mr K’s private life. We’re talking about his professional attitude and cancelling a dress rehearsal for a private matter would be rather unprofessional.

          • [ But I don’t want to discuss Mr K’s private life ]]

            Oh, but you do. It’s your favourite topic.

          • Huh? Now show me where I did that! I commented these days on him placing his wife at the BSO – but that wasn’t exactly about his private life either, but about a professional matter again.

          • And his kid, and his wife, and his health… your malevolent screed never stops. Perhaos you need to ask yourself why you type all this crud?? For your own self-glorification!!!

          • I’ve once commented about his wife – her engagement at the BSO. And I never ever talked about his kids! Neither the “fresh” one nor the three he’s already got out of his first marriage.
            However, his health is part of his professional life – and if I have talked about that then only in matters of his voice! And that must be allowed with a singer.

          • Who placed whome where. If You refer on the engagement of one of the most talented opera directors in München, You seem to be only jealous. Mrs. Lutz hat a very good carreer before havin met Kaufmann and she is continuing despite being married to a singer and recently being mother. Placing the partner is the privileg of Ms.Netrebko, Ms. Damrau, Mr. Alagna….

          • Well, in the case of Mr Alagna: His wife had already done the leading lady in “Turco in Italy” at Covent Garden before they became a couple, so she definitely didn’t need him to get roles.
            Besides I really don’t know why I should be “jealous” on Ms Lutz-Kaufmann. I don’t have any ambitions in managing or directing opera. As I said before: I’m happy with my job as it is and I don’t want to do anything else. So please, spare me your silly personal attacks.

          • “So please, spare me your silly personal attacks.” Good idea: spare Your silly attacks on that threads; would be great!

          • you must be joking and don’t know anything about music – the opening counts and the following performances

      • This ROH Forza has been in Mr. Kaufmann’s schedule long before he and his wife knew that they would have a baby now in March. Babies are not online shopping items. They come when they come -or like in my case, I wasn’t lucky and it never happened.
        I’m sure Mr. Kaufmann very much wants to do this Forza. He has great respect for Maestro Pappano and he has also mentioned several times how he loves to work at the Royal Opera House where the members of the production team are always great professionals.

        In the autumn of 2016 when Mr. Kaufmann had to cancel his performances for several months, he had a vocal chord haematoma. For an opera singer that is a very serious thing. It means that it is absolutely forbidden to sing. Also opera singers can get ill. There’s even a name for that sort of thing. It’s called life.

      • @ sycorax: what a silly comment! Of course he knew 5 years ago that his partner will have a baby in march 2019 – or what do you mean with “planed”?

        • No one talks about five years in advance. But he’s known it since a few months and so he could have said at the ROH that his wife is to give birth around this time and that he’ll cancel rehearsals then for being with her.

          However, if he would have done so and if he would have cancelled the dr for being with his new family the ROH certainly wouldn’t have announced that he’s indisposed. Then it would have been “private matters”.

    • Well, if this would become custom dress rehearsals would become a joke.
      Besides: I’ve sat in a few dress rehearsals and I’ve seen singers who wanted to spare their voices. They then did some marking, but they were there!

      • Maybe they wanted to wanted to Eyvazov a run through the piece with the orchestra? Did that thought occur to you, Ms Brainbox??

        But in your mind, you ought to be running the ROH, deciding the repertoire, casting the singers, hiring the players, scheduling the rehearsals, writing the contracts, negotiating the fees, designing the costumes, and running the lighting board too.

        • Well, I never thought about managing an opera house and I’m actually rather pleased by my job as it is, but I sometimes don’t believe that the powers to be at ROH would put a board out, saying Mr Kaufmann is “indisposed” if they only would want to give Mr Eyvazov a chance to go through a full run with the orchestra. The most singers I know are pretty “touchy” when it comes to their health and how it’s spoken about and I suppose Mr Kaufmann would be rather upset to be announced as “indisposed” when he’s in fact fit.

          • Clearly you haven’t the first clue about what a rehearsal is, nor what it is for. Probably you thought a DR is organised for you and your freeloading coven to attend the opera, but without paying the normal prices? And have a chance to exchange your splentic tittle-tattle in the intervals.

            Opera houses run DRs in front of invited audiences to test reactions to action and timing, to see how acoustics work, how the (many) teams of soloists ‘gel’ with each other dramatically and musically – and many more aspects. EyVazov (please let’s spell his name correctly?) is sharing the role with Kaufmann, and his performances start from 29th March. Or do you feel that he, too, is not entitled to a DR? Perhaps he even asked for one.

          • Sweetheart, it was some time ago, but once during my wild youth, I worked in the opera (and it was one of the “big houses”, thank you very much). And now I’ve got friends in this branche and a son who’s studying music and was already as substitute for his teacher in the pit of “big house”. So yes, I do know what a dress rehearsal is and why it’s done. And I do know that no singer would like to have a board out saying he’s “indisposed” when he isn’t.

      • I attended the two last deess rehearsals of Kafmann inMünchen. All sang fully ot; it was a simply normal performance.

  • I have tickets for the second performance next Sunday. I hope he will be fine but Eyazov is performing better and better so I really dont’t mind. My last two Kaufmann performances were disappointing: Walküre act 1 at the Barbican and Tristan act 2 in NY.

    • Have You eard him sing Siegmund last Summer inMpnchen or Otello in München or French arias one month ago? You remember that Walküre at Barbican was short after his long break. I was there and can compare. By the way: the rest of the cast there was bad.

      • The rest of the cast in Walküre fist act was much better than Kaufmann, especially Mattila and Halvarson. They deserved a better orchestra and conductor.

        • Mattila was simply bad, shrill shouting and Halvarson is only able to be Grand Inqusitore as he has no voice. Heard him several times in that role.

    • You’ll be pleased to hear Eyazov was in excellent voice this morning and looks pretty good seems to have lost a lot of weight

    • Nobody is panicking that the performance won’t go ahead. This is specifically about whether or not Kaufmann will be in it.

        • [[ it is not a very good opera ]]


          When don’t you drop Verdi a line and ask for your money back, Mike? As if you knew a single note of it.

          • It is a shame that people think personal insults are the immediate response to everything. There are people who have opinions of their own. Having seen Forza several times over several decades I have decided I didn’t like it enough to see it again. Hope that’ s OK with you?

          • Well, if you don’t share the opinion of certain people here they’ll tell you that you have a) no clue about opera (I always wonder how they know) and that you’re b) a bad person only up to insult their favourite singer (because you’re jealous, envious or something else you didn’t know about).
            It’s actually kind of amusing what these people know about you from the few lines you’ve written. 😉

            PS: I’m with you. I wouldn’t say Forza is a “bad” piece, but it’s one I mustn’t see too often. Yet that’s a matter of taste, isn’t it?

      • I’m afraid this is specifially about Mrs. Becker’s potential breakdown upon hearing anybody saying anything negative about Mr. Kaufmann.

  • Congratulations are in order if their first baby has arrived. As far as I’m concerned he is THE tenor, his voice touches the soul, he’s a tremendous actor, his portrayal of Otello as jealousy consumed his mental capacity to reason, was breath taking. There’s a particularly nasty throat virus going around London at the moment, people losing their voices, so do hope he hasn’t caught that.

  • I don’t understand this kind of “information” : comments of rehearsal are not authorized because the rehearsal is not a performance. The Premiere is the 21 of march, please wait for this date and don’t be so impatient !

  • Looking at Anna Netrebko’s instagram page over the last few weeks, there has not been one single picture of him, either in her posts or her insta-stories… That says a lot

    • Wrong. It says precisly *nothing*.

      Or are you another of those here who think that opera is just a long cocktail party, with canapes on the lawn in the intermission, and then clubbing until 3am after the show?

      • That is demonstrably false. On other productions she has shown not only her tenor co-stars who aren’t her husband, as well as her understudies….

        • And you believe she’s obliged to provide all her co-stars with photo-calls on every production she works on??? You need a reality check.

    • Most interesting to me is the fact, that ROH did not publish ANY foto till now and even the other principals are “silent”….. What does that mean? Ms.Netrebko even was not enthusiastic after yesterdays DR. What I heard from a person who was there : “…still a lot to work on the piece….”

  • I can easily understand your frustration, Norman (and a certain number of your faithful readers here). In the last 2 years Kaufmann has cancelled almost nothing and you couldn’t use your favorite headline – “Kaufmann cancelled”. To this day. And it doesn’t matter that this was only a general rehearsal, it’s important that he finally canceled something. In the future, if he wouldn’t want to cancel again for a long time – you can always write that he canceled his visit to the dentist, a ski trip or something similar.

    • A late actor friend of mine used to say “… and the most important thing is getting a**** in seats in the theatre”.
      One can’t deny: Kaufmann gets a lot of backsides in the seats of an opera house and that’s why he becomes hired.

      • If someone can’t stand that he shouldn’t do a job where he’s got to perform in public!
        I’m an author. I publish books and I have to life with people (unknown to me) reviewing and criticizing them. That’s not “cruel”, but the normality for everyone who’s performing in public – if it’s writing, painting, singing, acting or whatever else. We mustn’t like it, but as professionals we have to accept it without whining. For all of us the good, ol’ saying “If you can’t stand heath, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen” applies.

  • This discussion is more passionate than most operas I know. Why don’t we just wait and see what happens on the 21st March?

  • Sorry, but this is ridiculous. We don’t get paid to sing dress rehearsals. Who cares? Save it for when it actually matters…

    • Actually, you do get paid to sing a Dress Rehearsal, at least at Covent Garden.

      You are paid a rehearsal fee, which covers all rehearsals up to, and including, the Dress Rehearsal, if required and if you are not indisposed.

      I am sure Mr. Kaufmann obtained the necessary permissions not to sing on Monday morning.

  • What is sad to me in reading this thread is that ppl seem to hold these artists to a higher standard than they hold themselved. The deification of opera singers is ridiculous. They are humans.

    If one of you had a baby, you would probably want some time off from work too to be with the child. Nothing has indicated that he is out completely.

    Elina garanca canceled the dress before Samson at the Met – Opening Night! – and still sang the run.

    I get it – Norman needs traffic and yellow journalism is how he gets it. But the sad thing is that everyone here proves that his tactics work. All acting like the apocalypse is upon us before anything has even happened.

  • It is simply astonishing how a speculation about a possible non -appearance by a tenor can unleash endless quantities of venom and multiple personal insults, a veritable cyber cat fight. I can only pray that nothing really serious happens in the world of opera and the world in general.
    Whether Kaufmann sings the opening night or not will make a difference only to those who were silly enough to pay absurd amounts of money for tickets. Honestly, there are worse things happening in the world even as I write .
    Ladies and gentlemen, please pull in your claws!

      • You are not doing Mr. Kaufmann any favours by your constant denigration of other singers here and elsewhere. Please stop.

        • You do other singers” and Yourself not any favours by bashing Kaufmann…… To mention Schager here is bad on many cases: 1. he does not have the role in his repetory; 2. his voice does not fit to the requirement of Verdi roles (see Interview by Tezier) where more is needed that putting the right note on the right place. Thats the main problem with singers of that type.

          • I have not “bashed”, as you so elegantly put it, Mr. Kaufmann. Please point out on this thread where I have done so. Seriously, I think you need to learn to distinguish between admiration and idolatry !

          • It is idolatry – and from that results that every critic at the idol is seen as blasphemy and rectifies attacking and insulting the critic.

  • Bet the Kaufmann-bashers are sick of the superb reviews, not only from the national critics, but overseas too.
    Everyone knows that it is common, at the ROH, for the ‘stars’ not to sing the Dress when there is more than one cast.
    I can’t help thinking the moaners would be singing a different tune if they tickets for one of the Kaufmann / Netrebko performance.
    I do, and I will enjoying every second it!

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