Watch Jonas Kaufmann fall off his pedestal

Watch Jonas Kaufmann fall off his pedestal


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2020

If you can bear to wade through this casting disaster to the bitter end, you will see the singer slip backwards off his box.

The incident doesn’t look scripted and he takes it in typical good humour, but this load of cobblers should never have been shot.

Kaufmann is from Bavaria where it is usually white on Christmas. He doesn’t need fake flakes and vocal swoops.


It’s written for baritone, anyway.


  • fighting for right says:

    Why do you hate Jonas ? He’s a great singer and truly a great artist. and by the way, a lovely, loyal person wonderful to work with (which cannot be said about all the other famous stars).

    • Paul B says:

      It does not make him a great or wonderful singer if he is wonderful to work with.
      The only loyal thing he is to is his very own ego. He also surrounds himself with less talented singers, in order to easily “shine”… have seen this in other cases too, not a first one here.
      As for the present Christmasy kitsch, you can also see in the video that he really isn’t that honest, he is just playing it.
      But hey, he got his own groupies and that’s fine.

      • Patricia says:

        Do you considerAnja Harteros, Anita Rachvelishvili, elena Garanca, Sonya Yoncheva, Ludovic Tezier, Gerald Finley, Eva Marie Westbroek, Sondra Radvanovsky, Anna Netrebko, Nina Stemme Carlos Alvarez. Ildbar Abdrazakov, as the lesser artists he surrounds himself with!!!!! He works regularly with all of them

      • Parrot Road says:

        If by surrounding himself with less talented singers, you are referring to Anja Harteros, Nina Stemme, Lise Davidsen, Ludo Tezier, Elina Garanca, Anna Netrebko – well, what can I say? It’s not all that easy to find people of his calibre and work ethic, but there we go, it’s a tough life

    • Mouse says:

      The question “Why do you hate?” Is a good one in general. If it were only about a person’s lack of artistic ability, the author would just ignore the person. I think that – similar to the Angry White Men phenomenon – it’s about personal reasons such as envy and injuries. As the author’s hate list is known to remain unchanged over the years and even decades (Yuja Wang, Anna Netrebko, Bogdan Roscic, Peter Gelb, Jonas Kaufmann, Denis Matsuev) one sees that the author simply can’t get over these people. I think –as in the case of Trump- it needs a trained psychologist to answer your question

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is wholeheartedly discouraged to watch these videos if you are musically-sensitive.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      ”Com’on, man” (a very common expression these Days…) it’s only entertainment, and it’s no (…) or (…), that’s just one of those songs that makes one feel good and warm, kind of butter melting under the Winter sun. Seasonal Kitsch is good as far as it is my Kitsch, like André Rieu’s and the Wiener Phil’s “diverse” versions of the New-Year-Concert concept.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Here’s the deal, man…..he’s entitled to make money. Yes, dreadful I know, but make money he will and very good luck to him!! And others.
        (Something of the beat generation here, BTW, with ‘here’s the deal’. Alan Ginsberg would be happy.)

      • John Borstlap says:

        Such comment makes me think of certain animal farms, where the pigs… etc.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Dear Mr Borstlap,

      Even Brahms used to indulge in a Strauss waltz then and then, and compose some “ear candies” then and then.

      🙂 Pff

      • John Borstlap says:

        My goodness…. the differences, the MANY differences, between Brahms’ ‘ear candies’ and the contemporary Xmas kitsch by so-called classical music professionals is abyssmal.

        Clogged ears can easily be redeemed by all kinds of medical and psychotherapeutic help but for a list it is strongly advised to be on another website.

      • John Marks says:

        For a moment, I thought you had written that Brahms had composed “Ear Candles,” and I went… Hunh?

        Never mind.


    • Petra L. says:

      No worries, he’s got health insurance.

  • Alexander says:

    yes, ’twas written for baritone. I also heard Barbra Streisand sing this song , apparently, girl-baritone version 😉

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    It could well be a ‘white’ Christmas everywhere, according to this figurative definition:ée-blanche.1619835/

    • Alexander says:

      it could be everywhere but not for all …. someone seems to have a big fun … the times of “generation perdue” ended with Hemingway 😉

  • A.L. says:

    Jonas Kaufmann is now officially the male Renée Fleming. Cheesy, embarrassing, inconsequential. They know, though, that detritus like this sells and bloats their bank accounts. The joke is on those who fall for it.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      The ’detritus’ is a beautiful seasonal song. That song will be always be associated to Bing Crosby, but Jonas Kaufmann’s operatic overkill is welcome for the sake of (ugh!) ‘diversity’. 🙂

      • The View from America says:

        For musical “diversity,” another rendition of this classic song may be in better taste:

      • Mvarc says:

        I was expecting some “operatic overkill” and some of the “crooning” that can get annoying, but was pleasantly surprised by a delightful unspoilt rendition of this classic! I urge you all – even the confirmed JK-haters – to park your preconceptions at the door and listen with an open mind and unprejudiced ear and I think you’ll be as delighted as I was! He wasn’t singing “In fernem Land..” or “Nessun dorma” !

  • M McAlpine says:

    Ironic that the most popular Christmas song was written by a man who was, while ethnically and culturally Jewish, was religiously agnostic. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas apart from the sentimental traditional American view so dear to Berlin. He once commented to his daughter about her mother’s lavish Christmas spending, “I gave up trying to get your mother to economize. It was easier just to make more money.”
    Just take this as the bit of fluff intended. Why criticise? I don’t think anyone is taking it very seriously by the look of it.

    • Maria says:

      Except he will be laughing all the way to the bank for so little work and probably getting far more money than all the work and effort of singing an operatic role he does so well. Money for old rope, but good luck to him. At least it’s not this year’s John Lewis advert on the British telly for Christmas where the chances of a whir Christmas are as remote as 30C! LOL!

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I’m betting this song would have been a great salve for those whose ‘white privileged’ male relatives were off in Europe for WW2. Like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” it speaks about nostalgia and longing.

  • fred says:

    oh dear, what a vinegar reactions/crowd. Loads of great singers from the past from Tebaldi to Bergonzi made a x-mas record. It’s just fun and I welcome the record. That is was written for a baritone is nonsense. Great tenors, great sopranos, great mezzos and even great bassos have recorded the tune

  • Diane. Fanizza says:

    Jonas is a major artist with a great recording career. He is apparently , like many big name singers before him , dominated by his record label. His taste is usually perfect and all performances brilliant. This is , unfortunately,a sad misfire. He was probably the victim of misguided advice by professional and personal sources. Just singing. White. Christmas by a fireplace would have been most effective. He is not. Mario Lanza or Andrea Bocelli. He is. Jonas.Kaufmann. Don’t let anyone push you around. Jonas !!

    • Dr. Joubert Francois says:

      One of my fondest memories is a late Caballe concert in Munich, where she sang “I vaass dreeeming of A waaaait Crismaaaa”.

    • Helen says:

      Dianna, I am surprised by your comments. I know you are a big fan of JK and know, as far as it is possible to know, that he is an intelligent guy and is not easily pushed around. I don’t think he would have produced this CD if he wasn’t wholly behind it. You may not like this CD but he seems to have enjoyed the making of it, and many people will welcome this lighthearted and joyous Christmasfest in our stressful and challenging times. Next time maybe Schumann.

  • Sina says:

    Shame….shame on you!!Your comment ..shows a very very low degree of intelligence on your part….no appreciation of an Artist work or any imagination ….you should go critique teenagers music …..maybe you will be better at it…..( and don’t come and tell me that it’s because I like JK!! I would have made the same conclusion had you critiqued someone else!!!)

  • Bloom says:

    There s something disarmingly moving about this video. From a human point of view. Maybe it s the utterly mismatched repertoire or his dishevelled “star”looks, I don t know what it is, but whatever it is, it really tugs at my heartstrings.

  • Lunamoon says:

    Chill out, everybody. It’s fun and very sweet and we need more of that in our world, especially NOW!!!

  • Regina Akahoshi says:

    Terrible recording…

  • Charlottenburger says:

    Honestly Norman, why so hateful and pretentious? Ok, it’s perhaps not the best recording, but it’s certainly not the worst version either, and at least he has a sense of humor about it. Way more than one can say about you….

  • Ted Fink says:

    I suppose your text is a joke.
    He sinfs it beautifully with almost perfect English. It’s clear from the song that he’s supposed to be in LA not Bavaria, hence the fake snow..

  • chris says:

    Oh come on, of course this was on purpose. What a dramatic “article” lmao

  • Jane says:

    Wow. Such bitterness. Epic sense of humour loss in evidence! I prescribe a hearty dose of chestnuts roasting!

  • Zvi Netanel says:

    This article just stinks from personal vendetta. Yuk!

  • sam says:


    opera singers always make it about themselves. Whereas Bing draws you in with his singing like a warm soft blanket, Jonas is like listen to how soft I can sing this note, to how my vibrato comes in on this one, to how I sustain this note, which has the effect of emphasizing all the wrong words for all the wrong reasons…

  • Wikama says:

    Najlepszym tenorem jest Piotr Beczała. !

  • Colin says:

    I do not understand what was wrong in this “white christmas” song ? J. Kaufmann is like allways a good singer, original, genuine and creative. Like in this video. The one who see different, is either stupid or bad intentioned. Sorry.

  • K. Pfeiffer says:

    Not a box but a treadmill, on which he was walking. At the end he simply stops walking and is propelled off the machine — entirely intentional it would seem. He takes it not so much in ‘good humor’ but rather “in stride”, so to speak.

  • BrianB says:

    Maybe it’s the miking, but his voice here has a singularly grating and unpleasant edge, quite aside from the fact that the style is quite alien to him. Who knew Irving Berlin was so difficult to sing? (well). However, he’s in good company. Many people will remember Jan DeGaetani’s misbegotten Cole Porter album or the worst Christmas album and video ever, Renee Fleming’s of a couple of years back.

  • Basia says:

    this attempt to depreciate the artist’s sense of humor is pathetic indeed … and looks like a mere old jealousy..fall of pedestal is rather mr Lebrecht

  • BruceB says:

    No different from anyone else’s Christmas recordings. Nobody’s being forced to buy this, and the people who do will get exactly what they want.

    I didn’t listen to it all the way through — it’s a little early in the season for me, and to be honest I’m not a huge fan of the song — but what I did hear was pleasant enough; and skipping to the end, it was cute when he lurched off the back of the treadmill.

    • V.Lind says:

      I agree on the first two points, and even the last two, with qualifications. Pleasant — not quite enough for me to ever want to hear it again. I mean, he was on-key, but there was no bell to the voice. It was beyond bland. “Flat” gives the wrong impression in music, where it has precise meaning, but flat in its civilian sense was what is seemed to me.

      As for the video: I disliked the Beverly Hills start, the obvious lip-synching, the fake snow, but the lighthearted atmosphere may please some of his fans.

      Last saw him in a streamed recital a couple of months ago — was it Franck? Something recommended here, and I loved it. I will return to hm when he returns to his day job.