Jonas Kaufmann: We German singers have no competition

Jonas Kaufmann: We German singers have no competition


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2020

The tenor is promoting a new album in the FT:

“Without diminishing us as Germans, there is a lack of competition coming from elsewhere,” he says. “Look back 30 years and the list of Italian singers was endless, but not now. The Germans have taken over where there were openings. I have discussed this with teachers in Italy, and it may be that young singers are being pushed too far, though that can’t be the only reason”.

Read on here.



  • Jonathan says:

    Because the Article in question is behind a paywall, I am making an inference about what it says based on the excerpt that @NL has posted.

    While I agree that the situation in Germany and in German Musik Hochschule is better than in Italian Conservatories, I think JK’s comments are incorrect.

    These days, when one looks at the results of international voice competitions almost without fail, the winners come from
    – South Africa
    – South Korea
    – Russia

    Even when singers from German Hochschulen are represented, by and large are they international students who study in Germany (beginning with nearly perfect technique largely learned in their respect Heimats) in order to get a foot in the European Opera Business.

  • Hermann the German says:

    One can really misunderstand the headline. Does he mean tenors or male singers or singers male and female? There are singers in abundance, especially from Russia, the USA, from South Korea and diverse countries from the former communist block wherever you look. Maybe Herr Kaufmann is too far removed from the majority of opera houses in Europe.

  • mary says:

    “Without diminishing us as Germans…”

    That is a very odd turn of phrase.

    Is he subconsciously saying that even though Germans face no competition today, Germans are still not quite up to par with Italian singers of yesterday?

    Did he mean to say “Without bragging as Germans…”?

    • John Borstlap says:

      I’m certain he did indeed mean ‘bragging’ but maybe it’s a mistake by the journalist or editor.

  • Ron Swanson says:

    So the Germans are Meistersingers, I believe there’s an opera about that.

  • Dalledu Alletre says:

    Yeah, I wonder if he’s ever discussed it with Riccardo Muti, who runs an academy for Italian opera singers. (Probably not. It seems the two of them are fated never to work together, what with Kaufmann’s perception that Antonio Pappano is ideal for Verdi.) Muti has been talking about this problem for decades, and there are conductors and impresarios in France who have been equally concerned and outspoken about the narrow supply of French talent (except in Baroque music). Money is probably the reason ultimately, but changes in cultural priorities in Italy and France have played a role too.

  • Shut up and Sing! says:

    This is what happens when singers talk too much.

  • Bloom says:

    It is a false dillema and a way to justify the hyping of a rather bad “Otello”.

  • David A, Boxwell says:

    “We German Singers Have No Competiton . . . When It Comes to Cancelling Gigs.”

  • Cefranck says:

    Yeah, especially when it comes to crapping out on engagements.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Hans Sachs and Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf-Legge CBE said something of the sort. The ability of Italian and German singers to project words in their languages is noticeable in their best singers, something Licia Albanesi, Fischer-Dieskau, Salvatore Bacaloni. and Hans Hotter excelled in doing. Goerne and many present-day Eastern European singers do not.

    Even in English it can be rare, witness Heddle Nash, Maggie Teyte, and the Dane Aksel Schiotz happily disprove. , the latter in whatever language he sang. Some singers are still remmbered primarily for their parlando, like Claudia Muzio.

    Songs and arias have words; they deserve to be heard intelligibly. Their composers worked so hard to set them well.