Hear the great Jonas Kaufmann sing like a muppet

Hear the great Jonas Kaufmann sing like a muppet


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2020

The Spectator’s headline: ‘Hear the greatest Parsifal of our time sing like a Muppet: Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas album reviewed’

Richard Bratby writes: Everyone knew that Kaufmann was planning a Christmas album, and allowances had already been made for a certain level of kitsch. Opera singers have been releasing Christmas albums for decades, all of them projecting, to one degree or another, the aura of a Ferrero Rocher advert. But the early buzz on social media suggested that Jonas was in another class. ‘Astonishing’ was at the milder end, and a shocked consensus swiftly emerged. This wasn’t just embarrassing, this was the operatic equivalent of the boss photocopying his arse at the office Christmas party….

Read on here.


  • RW2013 says:

    Rather the arse of my boss than the words of this Brat.

  • Lena says:

    Again and again “news” about Jonas Kaufmann. The cause of many “clicks”? The ears of the critic hear it very differently. The Guardian counts the CD among the best classical Christmas albums of 2020.

    • Maria says:

      Yes, those f*****g Guardian readers as Tony Blair once got caught saying on an unturned off microphone on the BBC. Wouldn’t rely on the Guardian for much enlightenment. Most of them wouldn’t have heard of Jonas Kaufmann.

  • Drew Barnard says:

    Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas album must be very important if it’s getting this many posts.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Here’s Kermit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9DKlqgC8LY&fmt=22 (at one minute and 45 seconds in this video here)

    Poor Cherubino with all those women, or is it poor Figaro by now.. But WHO is Stacy!?

    I KNOW Figaro has something to do with it, though!

  • Bloom says:

    Sony Classical wants to continue promoting this stuff so much ( it brings )
    without being bothered by the audience “s criticism that they have deactivated the comments section for “Jingle Bells ” and “All I Want For …” on youtube. A too smart , much too critical audience can really be a pain in the butt for Sony Classical. They need some dumbified consumers to pay for the crap delivered by the dumbified tenor without questioning the quality of the product or the morality of the enterprise.

  • Paul says:

    Kaufmann’s voice, unfortunately, sounds old and rotten already, but what is even worse and quite unexpected is the fact that this album sounds without any feeling put into it, no soul put into all of these “popular” and not so popular Christmas songs.
    I guess one could fake honesty to some certain extent, and Kaufmann is not such an honest artist anymore – one can see it in his eyes, he is just faking/playing it today, but he is surely not so comfortable in doing it! Kaufmann has become a name in opera only around 10-15 years ago and a third of these years he has only cancelled and had vocal distresses.
    Much ado about nothing.

    • Marfisa says:

      The English songs were dreadful, brash and inexpressive. But the ones in German were not bad at all, the few I took time to listen to. I do like Kaufmann, though; he sang Dichterliebe well earlier this year, with the excellent pianist Helmut Deutsch. Maybe he has a future in Lieder?

      • Maria says:

        About time worked out what he can sing and what he can’t, and learn to say no to the latter. Why on earth did he have to sing the Wesendonck Lieder in so mannered a way? Hardly a good example of a Lieder singer.

        • Marfisa says:

          Wagner is one thing, Schumann quite another. I don’t really care how he sings Wagner, though I liked his Parsifal at the Met some years ago.

  • Nijinsky says:

    LOL! and tisk tisk tisk

    Here, I finished a rendition of “We three Kings of Orient are” for piano solo (was left unfinished from this season’s prior year), with a sort of Bartok harmony with Jazz introduction, sounding like King Rats sneaking into the building, excuse me manger (hadn’t thought it had anything to do with the Nutcracker, either till now); nor that it had anything to do with anything else. Just something silly to do: “take off on modern art.”

    “A 1960 recording of Die Fledermaus features the Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson, accompanied by Herbert von Karajan and the full Vienna Philharmonic, singing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady. Eliza Doolittle rides with the Valkyries. And if you enjoy that, why not take it to the next level with Torsten Rasch’s ‘Mein Herz brennt’ — an ear-splitting homage to the German metal band Rammstein, in the style of Alban Berg?” That there is from the article, which I even could pick out from the whole catalogue of what is mentioned (given the Three Kings), which I’m lost as to what it has to do with “X-mas,” nor concerned about….


  • Nijinsky says:

    One does get a gist of what Italians must encounter, when the whole world of Opera singers starts singing in their language, which isn’t English although one can hear Kaufmann’s accent in it.

    A real need to have one’s costume adjusted.

  • Robert King says:

    What’s frustrating about the [free] “Silent Night” track that I’ve watched is that (providing you like kitsch arrangements, and I rather do, especially when, as here, there’s a Rolls Royce of a voice) the elements that have drawn criticism could so easily have been sorted with minimal cost and effort.

    Plenty of singers who are recording in a language that isn’t their native tongue still don’t have a language coach at their sessions. Sometimes that’s down to budgets, but with a recording such as this, when substantial sums have clearly been spent in its creation (think of the marketing budget), why the production company didn’t spend a couple of hundred pounds to have an experienced language coach on hand when Herr Kaufmann was presumably tracking on his English vocals is surely an oversight. Listening to “Silent Night”, it really wouldn’t have taken much to get the wayward pronunciation sorted out: I’ve worked with singers whose English starts out a lot worse than does that of Herr Kaufmann, and within a few minutes had them sounding miles better (just sorting his “flipped” R’s and re-moulding a handful of vowels would have made such a classy singer sound, well, more classy).

    As for the handful of out-of-tune notes, if we assume the vocals were tracked on, pitch correction software could easily have sorted those in a few moments; or if it really was live sessions, surely the producer could have asked for a retake of a couple of phrases: it only needed 30 seconds.

  • James Weiss says:

    It all sounds like he recorded it in between loo visits while he had tummy problems.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Poor Jonas; he’s just not allowed to make money.

    (Yes, he is.)

  • Marfisa says:

    To be fair, it is only in “All I want for Christmas is you” that the Bratby in the Spectator review says Kaufmann sings like a Muppet. The rest seems to pass as a standard Christmas CD offering, fine if you enjoy it. And Bratby did say that the German songs were lovely.

    I agree with all those commenting on the pandemic of high-minded snobbery in the classical music world. Time for a vaccine.