When Kaufmann sang with a New York realtor

When Kaufmann sang with a New York realtor


norman lebrecht

May 25, 2020

We’ve had a rush of visitors to Slipped Disc seeking information about Marina Poplavskaya, who sang opposite Jonas Kaufmann in the Met’s 2011 production of Gounod’s Faust that was screened this weekend. The two singers shared an agent at Zemsky/Green.

We seem to be the only source only to report what happened to Ms Poplavskaya next. In 2014 the Russian-trained soprano gave up 28 years of singing opera for a settled occupation in her husband’s business as a New York realtor. Read here.




  • John Rook says:

    This is old news. It’s also worth reading the extensive Travels with a Diva from The New Yorker if Pop is an unknown quantity for you…

    • Carter says:

      It’s not “old news” to some of us. In fact, it’s not even “news.”

      Thank you, Slipped Disc, for sharing this interesting bit of information.

  • Nik says:

    She was an interesting and compelling performer when she first appeared, but her career was sadly cut short by vocal trouble. I don’t think she gave up entirely by choice. The decline of her voice was painful and obvious.

    • Yes Addison says:

      That’s a good concise summation. She had something valuable. There were all kinds of technical weaknesses one didn’t need to be a vocal pedagogue to hear, but she entered into musical drama with artistry and seemingly sincere belief. She could make you forget you had seen these characters’ predicaments all before. I’ll never forget her as Desdemona and Elisabetta di Valois, and also the way she made something moving and truthful of a director’s questionable staging of an aria in Trovatore. But then the cancellations started outnumbering the dates kept, and the dates kept had more and more compromised singing. She was originally scheduled to be the Countess in the Met’s season-opening Nozze di Figaro in 2014, but the vocal problems were too far advanced by then. I hope her new career is fulfilling.

      • Nik says:

        Yes, even when her voice was at its peak it was obvious that she had a very strange and unreliable technique. One almost expected her not to hit the next note, even though she did. But she had a unique, otherworldly presence.

    • Dalledu Alletre says:

      This is true.

      She had quite a good career. She left eleven videos of complete operas, and another three audio-only, all made between 2007 and 2012.

      She collaborated with Gergiev, Mackerras, Muti, Bychkov and Minkowski, among others.

      Opposite Jonas Kaufmann, she also sang Don Carlos in 2009.

      But as Al Gore once said, “there are other ways to serve.”

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Agreed and happy there is a record of her work. I was lucky enough to have had a few conversations with her–and she now lives in my neighbourhood. Rarely have I known a singer to speak so passionately about their roles. Plus, on a personal note, when she was at the Met I witnessed several acts of true kindness, often involving perfect strangers. I wish her much success and happiness.

  • Bloom says:

    The fact that she gave up singing when confronted with vocal trouble is a sign of honesty. The same honesty she revealed in her performances, in fact. She remained ”chaste et pure” as an artist. Not like many of her colleagues who continue to mess around in a far worse vocal state delaying the retirement sine die.

  • Pedro says:

    I have heard Pop live twice, in Verdi’s Requiem and as Desdemona. Good but not memorable.

  • Thomas Dawkins says:

    I heard her in that Faust and while the technical side of the Jewel song was too approximate for my taste, the church scene was absolutely spine-tingling. Her vocal acting there was incredible.

  • Hypocrite says:

    Taking on the role of Elisabetta do Valois was a career-killing move. The role was far too large for her voice and she never recovered vocally from attempting to sing it.

  • fliszt says:

    Not the first singer to do so – Joanna Simon (yes, Carly’s sister) also left the operatic stage for a career in real estate.

  • Stephen Gould says:

    Pace the quote about Reshevsky, “a great loss for opera, at best a draw for real estate”.

  • sorin braun says:

    95% of opera singers would gladly trade their job for a steady occupation in a vibrant city.

  • V.Lind says:

    Doesn’t sound to me as if Kaufman ever sang with a realtor. He sang with a singer.

  • chris says:

    Philadelphia Orchestra has a video on their fb page with Poplavskaya performing in Verdi’s Requiem — also, YNS’s inaugural concert.


  • A friend says:

    Wow, still desperately trying
    to reflect that light she still emanates? Talk about being a lame armchair critic/keyboard warrior. Lol
    I literally got dumber from reading this article.
    Consider ceasing embarassing yourself, you seem too dull to reflect her light.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    A very expressive and emotionally compelling singer. I remember hearing her on several broadcasts and being very impressed. Sad to hear she stopped singing. Maybe a bit too much too fast?

    When managers and agents find a new, young talent that can sing Desdemona and Elisabetta, they latch onto her and push, push, push!! They fill key engagements, get their commissions, sell out the house, and if the young singer burns out? They just find the next one. The burden is on the singer to pace herself and say “No” to certain roles/engagements. Hard to do when big opportunities are rolling in.

    ACCURACY POLICE: To be totally accurate, Poplavskaya was *not* a realtor when she sang in Faust with Kauffmann. She was a highly talented up-and-coming young soprano. Just sayin’. (But yeah, I get it – wild titles get clicks and then views for the articles.)