Breaking: Kaufmann skips Fidelio dress rehearsal

Breaking: Kaufmann skips Fidelio dress rehearsal


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2020

We’re hearing from people at Covent Garden than Jonas Kaufmann was a no-show at today’s dress rehearsal of Fidelio. Unwell, they said.

Lise Davidsen, on the other hand, was every inch the star and won a huge ovation.

Jonathan Stoughton covered for Jonas.


  • Gustavo says:


    Check out this high-risk event!


  • LydiaWahlberg says:

    So, how are all of you Kaufmann groupies going to defend this kind of behavior?

    • sycorax says:

      The usual: It was only the dress rehearsal, he’ll be there for the real performances and he’ll be great.

      I doubt it. His voice sounds mostly “overstretched” in the last years. Well, I’m saving some money in not going there. Perhaps when Lise D. gets another Florestan? She is great, but I’m really not willing to pay a lot of money for his worn out voice.

      • Helen says:

        Why don’t you just get yourself back in your box. You are really quite an evil person. You are hoping for him to fail. Really horrible

        • sycorax says:

          Of course. Who ever criticizes Kaufmann’s voice must be an “evil person”.
          Well, I actually don’t “hope” for him to fail. I only am not willing to pay big money anymore for hearing him struggle. Except of that I wish him only the best – and that his voice recovers from all the pressure he put it under.

        • Larry D says:

          Wow, you set a low bar for “evil”. You should reread your own comment—it doesn’t exactly show you in solidarity with the angels.

        • Mezzosaskia says:

          Why don’t you be quiet and go to a ENT-doc, if you cannot hear that Mr. Kaufmann’s voice definitely IS worn out?
          Don’t misunderstand me please, I remember his wonderful tenor voice during the first years of his international career and I really loved it. Since some years the voice is getting worse and worse and for good and trained musical ears it isn’t a secret to hear it. As far as I know sycorax is a musician by herself and she just says the truth. There is no reason to attack her personally in such a rude way. Shame on you.

          Concerning to Kaufmann’s airs and graces to feel “unwell” again for the dress rehearsal, it’s an act of uncooperative behaviour what doesn’t earn any respect or excuse. By the way, it shows that he doesn’t trust his voice by himself to be able to sing both – the dress rehearsal (where he would be allowed to mark!) and the first performance.

          • sycorax says:

            That’s it. I know a lot of singers who wouldn’t miss the dress rehearsal even if they’d feel lousy. They’d go there, they’d tell they don’t feel well, they’d probably mark, but they were there – disciplined and respecting their colleagues.

            Of course, when someone’s really sick he can’t go. But then he’ll probably can’t do the first night either.

          • Jane says:

            Just re the discipline and respect for colleagues etc- you might be faintly interested to know that Kaufmann was there at the dress. Just not on the stage. Probably wise given his under-par perf on opening night. So… a non-story, as anticipated.

          • Helen says:

            She constantly criticises Kaufmann. Clear you don’t like him either. All I would say is with regard to Sycorax she is becoming boring with her constant snide remarks about him. Ok she doesn’t like him. I get the picture. By the way, just go to Shakespeare’s Tempest to find who Sycorax is. Get the picture!!

          • sycorax says:

            Ever heard about something like “irony”, Helen? I’ve read “The Tempest”, too …

            Besides: I couldn’t say I dislike Mr Kaufmann. I don’t know him, so I can hardly dislike him. Yet I do dislike the hype about him and I certainly don’t think he’s the greatest tenor there ever was.

      • V.Lind says:

        He’s probably all right, and there is always the possibility that he will be covered…and you never know if he will deliver on the night. If I were you, I would not pass up the chance to hear Davidsen — someone recently said of her Glyndebourne Ariadne (I think that’s what it was) that it was an “I was there” moment in his musical life.

        • sycorax says:

          Yep, it definitely was. I’d seen the Glyndebourne Ariadne at the first time and there I wasn’t too impressed. Yet with Lise Davidsen it was mind blowing!

      • Waltraud Becker says:

        Better stay home and never appear on Kaufmann threads again; are You a masochict?

        • sycorax says:

          Sweetheart, we were having this debate before (following by you stalking and insulting me in my professional things).
          I know you’re a big fan of Mr Kaufmann and in your eyes he can’t do wrong. However, Mr Kaufmann isn’t above critique and I’m allowed to have an opinion and to express it.
          As I’ve said before: At the start of his career I was delighted. I loved his voice, I really thought there is a new star born. And I’m rather sad that he – in my opinion – went in the wrong direction with his choice of roles and overstrained his voice. He was a real good lyrical tenore, but for heaven’s sake he is wrong in the Helden fach. Compare his Gralserzählung to what people like Sandor Konya, Wolfgang Windgassen, Ben Heppner and even the often badmouthed Rene Kollo made from it; compare what a Kollo or a King made with Florestan! Yet – once again in my humble opinion – Kaufmann lacks the brightness I want in a tenore in this fach and sometimes he even seems to lack the “strenght”. His voice sounds pressed and over the top.

          Actually I’m not too much in tenores, so in the moment I wouldn’t know one I’d like to hear as Florestan, but I’m sure there some out there who can do it and who can even hold a candle to Lise Davidsen who’s for me one of the great discoveries of the last years (I really was blown away in Glyndebourne. I don’t like “Ariadne” much and was only there for a friend, but with her it became a great night and a real experience).

          • V.Lind says:

            Too late for Richard Margison, I imagine. He did a well-regarded recording with Christine Brewster, but I think his focus has shifted in the last few years. He was in one of the best Turandots I have ever seen a few years ago, but as the 2020s begin I realise that the “few”s are mounting up.

            Can he be that rare tenor, one who realises that his voice is no longer what it was and and that he should leave the mainstages?

          • RICHARD PATRICK CRAIG says:

            I have not heard many Florestans but the greatest exponent of this role was Jon Vickers. Just listen to him exclaim OH GOTT!! as the first words in that great aria at the beginning of act 2 it would blow you away in its intensity and power (but Vickers was a force of nature) and as much as I admire Kaufmann he does not come near him. But I well remember him singing the role of Sigmund some years ago and it was stunning

          • Eric says:

            Jon not only expressed unbearable anguish in the opening exclamation—Er hat immer sein Pflicht getan and became Florestan. Heard him in the role three times. Tremendous impact.

  • Nik says:

    So who was the stand-in?

  • Jane says:

    Just as he did with Forza, then he went and nailed it in every performance he gave.

    Come on, nothing to see here.

  • Jill Jenkins says:

    Once again Jonathan Tetelman stepped into the breech at ROH and was brilliant, just as he was when he rescued La Traviata.

  • Lee says:

    It was Jonathan Stoughton who sang today.

  • Rabbie says:

    But it was announced that Kaufmann was unwell and would not appear but no further announcement was made. So half the audience thought they were hearing Kaufmann and the rest had no clue who was singing. But Davidsen was spectacular

  • Robin says:

    Lise Davidsen is worth every penny/cent, as is meaestro Pappano and the ROH orchestra. Anyone would think opera singers cancel on a whim to read the comments. Jonathan Stoughton did brilliantly. Fingers crossed for Jonas on Sunday.

  • Sue says:

    If Jonas had the slightest doubt about his voice/throat on the day of the dress then he is totally right not to sing and to rest it ready for the opening night. Get well soon Jonas!
    No 1 fan (and ex singer!)

    • sycorax says:

      If all singers would think and do so, the dress rehearsals would be mostly sung by the stand ins.

      • william henry wilson says:


        No one is better prepared than Jonas!

        Mediocre productions result from failing to maximize the proper use of stand-ins.

        Stars make successful productions… not stage managers!

      • John R. says:

        More would sing if they weren’t open to the public, I think. Also, usually way too early in the day to sing full voice but much pressure to do so from maestros and Genl Mgrs.

        • sycorax says:

          In German we say “Morgenstund hat Schleim im Mund”, but nevertheless: As a student I’ve sometimes worked in the recording studios of the Southern Broadcasting Company (SDR Stuttgart). There the work day started at 9:00 h in the morning and around 10:00 h most singers had to be there with full voice. With Celibidache (at this time boss of the SDR Orchestra) you wouldn’t have gotten an excuse for being tired.

  • william henry wilson says:

    Yonas is the best!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’m offering a more prosaic suggestion; the father of a young child/children is going to come down with each and every bug the child gets. Been there, done that. Everything from the inevitable gastric, through to colds and flu and rash-accompanying viruses.

    • sycorax says:

      Well, Mr Alagna has gotten a rather small daughter, is very involved in her upbringing; Ms Netrebko brought her small son up and was still reliable; Ms Damrau rarely cancelled despite of having two small kids … shall I proceed?
      Opera singers having children is quite normal, me thinks – and a lot of them a very engaged and involved parents without falling sick too often.

  • Sue100 says:

    Just received info from the ROH that Kaufmann has cancelled tonight’s Fidelio…