Jonas Kaufmann: I’ve been using the time to learn Tristan

Jonas Kaufmann: I’ve been using the time to learn Tristan


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2020

From a new Covid-era interview with Antonio Pappano:



  • Bloom says:

    Oh, did he? Maybe the social media campaign ” things I miss” is based on some dark Tristan longings. And the husky voiced Strauss (“Ruhe…”) has a Tristan feel about it. Not to mention the upcoming “Christmas with Tristan”tour , a project that is already setting on fire hordes of Grannie Isoldes.

  • mikhado says:

    With Celine Dion as Isolde?

  • Peter says:

    Maybe somebody should remind Kaufmann that singing Wagner (among others) got him cancelling for many months in a row, and not just once… his German is perfect (no surprise here :-)))), but singing Wagner is a whole different thing!
    His new recording with Otello is unfortunately very disappointing…

    • Maria says:

      A recording is a recording and just put together in pieces and then knobs are turned!

    • Chris Ponto says:

      I’ve played only previews of the new Otello on Amazon and I’m alarmed at how barky and effortful JK sounds. Again–only 30-second snippets but from those one might conclude that this is not his role or he had not recorded it at his best. Not Italianate at all. Have you heard the whole thing?

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I heard him sing Tristan Act II in Boston in a concert performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Camilla Tilling. In the words of a friend who also heard the performance, “Tilling has no business singing Isolde.” And as for JK, while he was better, well….

  • Rob says:

    With ‘Posh Spice’ as Brangäne?

  • CallasfanGE says:

    Go for it, Jonas – you will be wonderful. And perhaps Netrebko could now prepare Isolde? Garanča as Brangäne?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Kaufmann has sung Parsifal and Huon of Bordeux in Weber’s “Oberon”, a role superbly assumed by Karl Liebl, another fine Tristan. It’s a natural progression.

    He talks of voice placement in French opera, which I’ve heard him sing on stage with Natalie Desay. His recording of “Oberon” is in English, the language of yhe premiere under Weber. I prefer German and Karl Liebl over him or Helge Roswaenge and Domingo, another Tristan-aspirant. Karl Liebl sing’s Huon’s martial aria “Zu Kaempfe” spectacularly, in youthful voice like Wunderlich, who didn’t live to attempt these roles. Does anyone lse know it? Even Liebl had trouble with Tristan nd as one of the three ristans worn out in a single Met performance, one act each.

    Tthe first Tristan died a few days after its premiere, as did Gosta Winbergh th week after he sang it here with Jane Eaglen, who soon retired after her very disappointing Isolde and Brunnhilde at Lyric Opera.. Kaufmann won’t be the first, or last, tenor to struggle with Otelllo and Tristan, but is an honourable contender and deserves his chance.

    HKaufmann’s English is idiomatic and nearly unaccented, fluent if not glib, replete with the latest interjections and crutch-words, you know, ah, like, uh, I mean, er … and was fed fatuous questions and shameless flattery. He’s not ideal, but who is better today?

    • Larry L. Lash / Wien says:

      Gösta Winbergh died in Wien in his hotel room in the night after singing Florestan at Staatsoper on 17 March 2002. (I remember this well as it was the first time I had to write an obituary.) Had he sung Tristan only a few days before? With which company? The role is not mentioned in his Wikipedia biography.

      • Edgar Self says:

        Larry Lash/Wien — It was with Lyric Opera of Chicago. You might find John von Rhein’s review in the “Chicago Tribune”.

  • Catherine Cozzano says:

    Thank you for this extremely interesting conversation that reveals how concerned Jonas Kaufmann is with the truth of the characters he interprets. That’s what makes him so special in the lyrical world. He’s one of the few, if not the only one, who gives so much importance to the feelings and the emotions of the character. I love the way he justifies the beginning of Florestan’s aria with a pianissimo by the fact that he’s been in prison for two years and can’t sing out loud immediately. That tells us how well he understands his parts. Not only he has the vocal talent but he also has a real culture as a musician. Thank you Jonas. I can’t wait to hear you on your December tour in Paris, hoping it won’t be cancelled .

    • Maria says:

      Yes, I agree. Very musical and everything observed from the score.

    • Natalia says:

      Well done Catherine, you are one of the few that know about music! The haters just think as a Tenor that needs to sing a big voice copycat a favourite previous on the role, specially 50 years ago..where there was no acting and subsequent emotion on the characters.
      Jonas is has the widest range of characters! Like Otello he can pull Tristan and Isolde..he is smart enough to wait for the right timings.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Winners are grinners. Go Jonas!! His voice reminds me a little of the much-missed Dmitri H.

    • BrianL says:

      Just that Hvorostovsky was a great baritone, whereas Jonas is a tenor and should also sound like one….

  • Eva says:

    Good luck Herr Kaufmann! Just do it