Jonas Kaufmann floats his boat

Jonas Kaufmann floats his boat


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2022

Rehearsal pic from Vienna State Opera’s Peter Grimes, opening tomorrow (and largely unsold).

Kaufmann sings the title role, Bryn Terfel is retired captain Balstrode.

In three-piece suit and club tie?

UPDATE: We’re begging you: please come!


  • Cynical Bystander says:

    By ‘largely unsold’ do you mean sold to the existing grid of available seats under Covid restrictions? Rather like many other European houses that can only seat 25% of their capacity.

    • Elsa says:

      You need to be ‘ vaccinated ‘ twice and ‘boostered’ as well as a negative PCR test taken the previous day and it needs to be valid until the end of the performance. I would call that: totalitarian

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Fact check:

        A definition of totalitarianism

        Totalitarianism is far worse than dictatorship, despotism, or tyranny, in that it supplants all political institutions with new ones and sweeps away all legal, social, and political traditions.

        The totalitarian state pursues some special goal, such as industrialization or conquest, to the exclusion of all others.

        All resources are directed toward its attainment, regardless of the cost. Whatever might further the goal is supported; whatever might foil the goal is rejected.

        This obsession spawns an ideology that explains everything in terms of the goal, rationalizing all obstacles that may arise and all forces that may contend with the state.

        The resulting popular support permits the state the widest latitude of action of any form of government.

        Any dissent is branded evil, and internal political differences are not permitted.

        Because pursuit of the goal is the only ideological foundation for the totalitarian state, achievement of the goal can never be acknowledged.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Thanks for your definition/list, which so aptly fits the current situation. And for much woke culture.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        That’s what it is. In Canada a huge convey of truckers is protesting about the same thing – and widely supported by lots of people. Meanwhile, I know quite a few 40 somethings who’ve had Covid – as well as their children – and it was like a bad cold (Coronavirus).

      • HugoPreuß says:

        Please, check out how Hannah Arendt (1951), Carl J. Friedrich / Zbignies Brzesinski (1956), and Juan José Linz (1975) or some other leading political scientist defined totalitarianism. Hint: requiring health measures during a pandemic is not on anyones list.

      • Friedel Lebens says:

        That is not the Truth ☺️!

  • RW2013 says:

    The most chilling text in all of opera –
    “Sail out till you lose sight of land, then sink the boat. D’you hear? Sink her.
    Goodbye Peter”.

    • Elsa says:

      It is the rule of the mob.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Not like “kill that woman” at the end of “Salome”, aye.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      More chilling than: “Il sera l’assassin de son père. Et pour multiplier sa race meurtrière il sera l’époux de sa mère, le frère de ses filles,
      le père des ses frères!”?

      When John Tomlinson sang that at Covent Garden shivers went down my spine.

  • Michael Turner (conductor) says:

    Is Bryn Terfel playing Balstrode as a shipping tycoon rather than a retired ship’s captain, I wonder? Who knows, Jonas Kaufmann might deliver fully-formed fish fingers to the keyside.
    After all, Wozzeck once committed suicide in a vat of baked beans!

  • gareth says:

    The first time I saw Terfel “live” in opera was in Peter Grimes, at Covent Garden in the mid-1990s. He made quite an impression both vocally and dramatically, even though he was the youngest Balstrode I’d ever seen! Now he’s of a more fitting age for an old sea-dog, I’m pleased to see it’s still in his repertoire.

    Hopefully there will be a stream/telecast of this production, as I’m intrigued to see what Kaufmann brings to the title role.

    • Elsa says:

      Radio ORF1 will transmit the live performance on 29.01.22 at 6pm GMT

    • Ben says:

      Also in that 1995 ROHCG cast was Catherine Wyn-Rogers, as Sedley. In a couple of months’ time she will be back there opposite Terfel, albeit demoted to Auntie, with Mark Elder conducting. Two favorite Garden artists.

      • Nik says:

        Yes, and the role debut of Allan Clayton! Exciting. I’d rather hear him than Kaufmann.

        • Helen says:

          Alan Clayton has a very good voice, closer in tone to Peter Peers and people may prefer to hear that. To me though it is intriguing to hear JK sing this. And why does it necessarily have to be sung by the similar voice type to Peers? I love JK more than any other tenor for his sheer versatility and musicality and charisma. It is a shame the tickets are not selling in Vienna too well. If this was the ROH it would be a very hot ticket with these 3, Terfel, Davidson and Kaufmann.

        • Micaela Bonetti says:

          Mmhhhhh, I was blessed enough to listen to Jon Vickers’ Grimes…
          In Paris, and at Royal Opera.

          Doubt any tenor could make the hole audience cry. Yes, cry…

  • Martin# says:

    And I shudder to think what the combined performance fees for Messrs Kaufmann and Terfel might be. More than for a complete production – set, orchestra, chorus, six performances etc in many ‘lesser’ opera houses of the world I’ll bet. And yet, and yet, nobody is going…..mmmm

  • Bloom says:

    The chorus and the orchestra have to be really great in this. Individual stardom doesn t really fit in.

  • Hugh Kerr says:

    Don’t forget Lise Davidsen the finest soprano in the world at present it’s quite a cast and I will be there on February 8th for the Edinburgh Music Review and Slipped Disc