The gift that never stops giving

The gift that never stops giving


norman lebrecht

November 16, 2020

Sharp-eared readers who have been sampling Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas album are concerned that his otherwise immaculate English has a little stumble on the opening line of ‘Jingle Bells’.

In Jonas diction, we hear, over and over again, ‘oh what fun it is to ride in a one-whore’s open sleigh’.

Just listen. He does it every time.

Doesn’t she deserve a name?



  • A.L. says:

    Parody and garbage sell. This is where we are culturally.

  • E says:

    It’s true, it’s funny, but his diction on the last past in Englgish was impeccable.

  • drummerman says:

    I can’t speak from personal experience but…I imagine it would be fun to ride in a one-whore’s open sleigh’.

  • GFHandel says:

    Oh dear! Wasn’t there a retake!

  • Alviano says:

    Give him a break. There isn’t as big difference, and we get a laugh. It’s Christmas; we can relax and do different things. You don’t have to buy it. As with most things: take what you like and leave the rest.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Youtube has a new option with some videos, that it will post subtitles based on language detection, just prior to the sound coming out I think.

    So, I was using that option, and the was a comment that: “There were a lot of ladies in the house,” which was spoken by an actor with an accent so that it came out: “There were a lot of ladies in th’ah-ihs,” and on screen came out with AI subtitles: “There were a lot of ladies in the ass.” Which brought me to wondering whether they were liliputians or so, or whether it was a big one, but it was so distracting I don’t remember at all which video it was, other than it was a nice production of the BBC put on youtube.

    Given that is was something new on youtube, it might have been Ars Nova or Ars Nouveau. There’s also a lot of ars on this site, as well.

  • Fred says:

    my my my Norman in spite of your previous criticism of th almbum you seem to have listened to it in great detail and apparently more than once :):):)

  • Emil says:

    Ouch – that’s hilarious and unfortunate.
    What’s up with his accent here, more generally? He sounds like if he’s trying to force himself to sound stereotypically American…and not in a good way. It doesn’t really sound like his speaking accent either. It’s rather comical.

  • Helen says:

    Now come on. Admittedly in Jingle Bells ” horse “. Is a bit amusing. But it does not sound like whore’s. Only to you maybe. But let us get this straight. JK’s English is flawless on this cd as on other occasions. Take “In the bleak midwinter” for instance. Perfect. I think the problem occurs more when an American slant is employed in some songs. Generally though his diction is tremendous. Give him a break for goodness sake. You keep supplying fodder to your Jk detractors with your unfair comments and over the top headlines. I have this cd and it will be a very happy addition to my collection. I will be playing it over the Christmas season and it will bring a festive spirit and a bit of joy to this rather dismal world we live in right now.

  • sam says:

    my god, it’s destined to be a classic for all drunken office Christmas parties

    (and he overdoes the twang of what he imagines is an American accent, it’s an unplaceable accent, is it southern? western? gangster? cowboy?)

    • Yes Addison says:

      The Midwest or the Great Lakes region seems to be the model. That’s what I’ve thought his American-accented English sounded like whenever I’ve heard it in the past too, such as in interviews on the Met broadcasts.

  • Bloom says:

    It must be dedicated to all his whores ( as in Marquez: “Memories of my funny whores”).Now cheer up , jingle your bells and open those legs ( and mind), people.

  • Bloom says:

    The whole promo campaign is so boringly traditional and “family”-centred ( you know, all those ultrasane traditional family values and that ultra-idylic domestic atmosphere), it seems so fake, so little matched with Mr.Kaufmann s real personality, that such jocular whorish hints sound very refreshing.

  • Chant Tous says:

    Singers will know why this happens- we sing vowels, not consonants otherwise it would sound more like hearse

  • C Rogers says:

    Pronunciation of one word apart, the thing about JK is that he’s an enthusiast for all sorts of music. He enjoys doing all sorts if projects or else he wouldn’t do it-he has plenty more offers. Domingo also did this sort of album as well as many more singers.

  • Liloloperaluv says:

    Glad to see you are listening to this delightful album. Have you seen his White Christmas video? Laughter; whether from Kaufmann’s hilarious parody or your begrudging sarcasm, is a welcome balm this holiday season.

  • Mark says:

    OMG That’s hilarious!

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    Yes, yes, yes: and in the movie of “The Sound of Music” the Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) asks Julie Andrews “What is it you cunt face Maria?” And in the “Madama Butterfly” duet, Geraldine Farrar, in response to a drunken Caruso, sings “He had a highball” instead of “Sì, per la vita.” All ears hear things differently.

  • Jimbo says:

    The entire vanity project is horrendous. His singing in English is grotesque.
    The Mariah Carey cover is one of the most awful renditions of anything ever. Embarrassing. Although he won’t care as he needs the money to support two families.

  • AndrewB says:

    Yes , he overdoes the attempted American twang , but some folks will enjoy this I guess . It is innocent fun.
    For my part I am thrilled to hear about the compilation of recently discovered historical Christmas crossovers including Dietrich Fischer Dieskau ‘s ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer,’ Dame Joan Sutherland’s highly ornamented version of ‘ Winter Wonderland’ and Dame Janet Baker singing ‘ When Santa got stuck up the chimney’ with figured bass realised by Benjamin Britten!

  • F.D.G. says:

    What about “all I want for Christmas” wasn’t there anyone around to tell him he is horribly out of tune? Let the ingolato and artificial coloring of the voice (sounds more and more like a very old man) but the intonation! It would be hilarious if this wouldn’t be the reality of recording opera “stars” nowadays.. it’s a disgrace to the genre.

  • Stephen Lord says:

    Well, we each and every one of us has an accent of one kind or another. I suggest we all have a quick listen to the original cast MY FAIR LADY and sing along to WHY CAN’T THE ENGLISH……

  • VV says:

    I made a parody video just for fun, it’s a send off to 2020. One Whore’s Open Sleigh:

  • VV says:

    The link died to the parody video, here is the new one I smell a conspiracy:

  • Gerry says:

    The actual context is a “wan whore’s open sleigh” – as in a pallid prostitute’s conveyance