Jonas Kaufmann takes a swipe at the Netrebkos

Jonas Kaufmann takes a swipe at the Netrebkos


norman lebrecht

February 28, 2020

Richard Morrison in the Times asks the tenor about the prospect of working with his second wife, the director Christiane Lutz.

Would Kaufmann want to be directed by his wife? “You mean on stage?” he says with a giggle. “In one way I would love to, but I would never push it. I’m not a big fan of those package deals you see a lot in opera, where if you hire one half of a couple you have to take the other half as well.”

No idea who he means.



  • Schoenberglover says:

    Other examples: Kozena / Rattle, formerly Opolais / Nelsons…

  • sycorax says:

    For once I fully agree with him. 😉

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    He has a point.

  • Tamino says:

    No idea who he means? There are plenty who can’t resist their power to secure the additional incoming cash flow, no matter how much it stinks, particularly if public subsidies are used to finance the performances, which in my eyes renders this kind of practice as straight forward corruption and abuse of public subsidies.

  • Tim says:

    He’s risked upsetting the ROH orchestra with that interview. On being asked to turn away from very nearby musicians in a sitz he says, “I found it quite odd. I would have thought that if you signed a contract to pay in an opera orchestra you would be aware that there is singing involved”.

    Firstly, not everyone in that room is on contract – there will be many freelancers there. It’s also simply at odds with ROH policy on hearing protection and if any ROH musicians read the Times they’d have every reason to feel annoyed that he’s shown them such a lack of consideration in print.

    • Bruce says:

      Opera singers are fekking LOUD, especially when they’re nearby and aiming their sound in your direction.

      We had Frederica von Stade as a soloist many years ago — not considered an especially “big” voice, a Cherubino rather than an Amneris. In rehearsal she sang facing out into the hall and sounded gorgeous; then she turned around and sang facing the orchestra and it was like getting blasted by a fire hose. Still gorgeous, but also kind of painful on a simply physical level.

      I understand that Kaufmann may feel a little put-upon that they asked him not to blast right into the players (and of course singers are always worried about being drowned out by orchestras, so perhaps he felt like a delicate flower), but he really could damage someone’s hearing.

  • George says:

    It’s not just about the cash flow. It is about being able to spend time with your partner – which can be very hard when you are a successful singer or conductor.
    Male artists wives either travel with them and stay bored at the hotel or they stay at home with the kids and their husbands cheat on them.

    But for female singers it is even more difficult. Anna Nebtrebko was in her mid fourties, when she married Yusif Eyvazov. She had given most of her time to her work and her career. I completely understand she wants to spend as much time with her husband and it is probably much nicer for her to kiss him on stage than his colleagues. 🙂

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Many years ago Alagna and Gheorgiou.

  • tristan says:

    love his comment….typical Jonas!!! he is so right but we need the couple as who else is singing….not a fan of Mr Netrebko at all and the hysteria around her goes on my nerves but let’s be honest: who else should sing their repertoire? Look at Italy? Where are the Frenis, Scottos, Ricciarellis of our time? Where are di Stefanos, Corellis, Raimondis (Gianni), Bergonzis etc? We only hear Meli and the crazy overrates Grigolo…Algana is a pain nowadays. Voila we need the Netrebkos…..

    • Waltraud Becker says:

      There are some very good Tenors around, much better than YE: Jagde, Spyres, Bernheim, Castronuovo and some more. No need to buy the “combination”…

  • SLM says:

    As long as both musicians in the couple are up to the standard set by the company in question, it makes perfect sense, and is not corrupt at all. Musicians are human beings like anyone else, and have family lives to think about. Singers especially spend almost all of their lives in accommodation other than their own homes, and away from loved ones. They miss family occasions, key school days, and all the moments of family life that most take for granted. It is only sensible that, where artistically justifiable, couples be given the chance to work together. Sure, it becomes problematic if there is a gulf of difference between each, in terms of artistic level, but otherwise it should be encouraged for very obvious, human reasons.

    • Waltraud Becker says:

      F.e. Testé never sings major roles, he takes the smaller ones in productions with Damrau. Alagna and Kurzak in most operas are equal, but this is by far not the case with AN and YE!

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Dear Concert organizer,

    I will be delighted to conduct your great orchestra. Yes, we can programme my Don Juan together with the Mozart concerto. I feel the public simply love my latest songs for voice and orchestra, and we could place a few in the second part, Before the Eroica. By the way, my wife has a wonderful soprano voice and (…)

    Sincerely yours,

    Richard Strauss

  • M McAlpine says:

    I can never understand why when there are so many couples who worked together – Sutherland and Bonynge did many years ago – why you pick out the Netrebkos unless you have a particular axe to grind.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Perhaps the difference is that Sutherland & Bonynge were utterly terrific together. How about Freni & Ghiaurov? Christa Ludwig & Walter Berry? I’d love to hear them (again)…

  • Caranome says:

    Bonynge/Sutherland, by all accounts a great duo.

    • Robin Worth says:

      Her Lucia with Bergonzi at the ROH (the last time he appeared there in an opera and not long before her retirement) was wonderful and the voice untarnished by age, for which Bonynge must be credited in part. He did not let her take on heavier roles. His reward was the same kind of hatred YE receives today : I remember being in the ROH amphitheatre in 1967 when he took his bow after conducting Norma with her. Two elderly , as it seemed to me, gentlemen went down to the rail and screamed “go home, go home”, anti-Oz as well as anti-Bonynge. Nothing has changed!

    • Daphnis says:

      From personal experience as a principal flutist in an orchestra performing with them, I can testify that Bonynge’s conducting was certainly not on the same level as Sutherland’s singing. His rehearsal technique with an orchestra consisted mostly of being her vocal coach.

    • Bruce says:

      Bonynge was an excellent opera conductor, but we all know who really sold the tickets.

  • BrianB says:

    This is not new in opera. I remember when James McCracken sang Radames in Seattle and we had to take Sandra Warfield’s overparted Amneris in woeful condition. In the 19th century there were frequent complaints that in order to hear Adelina Patti you had to put up with her undertalented pet tenor husband, Ernesto Nicolini. Sound familiar?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Hilary Clinton and Bill Clinton.

  • Ivy Lin says:

    There’s a bunch of conductor/singing pairings.
    Current: Yoncheva/Hindoyan

    Ex: Opolais/Nelsons

  • Rrer tg rff free e says:

    Buckingham and Nicks

  • anon says:

    Riccardo Muti and Chiara Muti