Jonas Kaufmann: I blame the directors

Jonas Kaufmann: I blame the directors


norman lebrecht

December 26, 2022

The tenor, in a telephone interview with Jessica Duchen for the Sunday Times, has his own explanation for shrinking ticket sales:

‘Regietheater productions that have dominated European stages for 20 to 30 years — often these are radical reinterpretations of ubiquitous repertoires. Perhaps a lack of ear-friendly new works resulted in overkill of the old ones.

‘Partly we pay our bills now for what we’ve done to opera over the past decades. People have found that going to the opera doesn’t necessarily mean a distracting evening out, but, on the contrary, having our problems rubbed constantly in your face. That doesn’t help much.’

Read on here.


  • Tamino says:

    Agreed. The Regietheater too often has the “Oberlehrer” approach. Trying to rub their perceptions of our shortcomings as a society in. Who actually assigned them the ‘Oberlehrer’ job?

    Only masochists pay premium ticket prices for such ordeals. Sometimes the music, the voices, the orchestra, seems to be promising and we will endure the visual assaults or close our eyes.

    Other times there are the rare stage directors, who manage to balance on the thin ridge not falling on one side into triviality, and on the other side into absurdity, but tell the story, always informed by and respecting the music as the priority.

    I have not much hope for the opera institution to get better from the top down, but have high hopes to survive and improve from the bottom up. Student initiatives. Uncorrupted by money organisations.

    Not cynical stage directors, corrupted by the high fees in opera, but actually hating opera to the guts and in the process ridiculing it for everyone else as well.

    • Aline says:

      Agree with every word. I found myself going out of some performances of the operas I love best. No connection between the story and the staging. Sometimes the periods are mixed up. Some singers are wearing modern clothes some not..and why not to add to it all some nudity.What for ?

      • Tamino says:

        Yes, but I’m not so much talking about such details.
        In my observation – I know a few high rolling stage directors quite well – the problem is lack of passion for the particular art form.

        Most of them these days are indifferent at best toward opera as a (musical!) artform. They come from theater and/or film, and are attracted by the relatively high budgets and fees in A level opera houses.

        In consequence of their self hatred for having sold out for the money, they act out passive aggressively, sometimes active aggressively, against artists and audience.

        Their allies are oversaturated general managers and opera critiques, who have seen it all many times, and like junkies need the ever higher dose of “irritation” and excitement.

        Unlike the ticket buying audience who most of the time see an opera for the first time.

        The system is kaputt. Systemic error.

  • mem says:

    “having our problems rubbed constantly in your face”

    What opera in the standard repertory does not deal with human “problems”?

    Or is it alright as long as it’s “other” people’s problems, and not “our” problems, being rubbed in our faces? Because let’s face it, there’s whole lot of dead, raped, abused women in the standard repertory, so as long as it’s women’s problems, it’s entertaining and “distracting”?

    Ticket sales are down because opera itself, its native content, its native plot, is problematic, and maybe people don’t want to spend a night out watching the same French whore dying from consumption, season after season, for example.

    • Helen says:

      Monumentally missing the point.

      There’s a difference between accepting a problem and endlessly harping on about it in a way which ignores the composer’s intentions.

      Ticket sales are more likely to be down because people are not prepared to pay a high price for a predictably one-sided, joyless evening.

      Believe it or not, opera directors are not the first to realise that life is far from perfect.

    • Micaela Bonetti says:

      Excuse me, Sir, have you never heard about Arts as catharsis?

    • Tamino says:

      You are missing the point.
      People come to opera these days first of all for the music. Presented in a gratifying ambiente, the opera house, and the staging.
      Most people don’t care if it’s a french whore dying from sickness, or an Irish princess getting mad, or an Italian opera singer falling in love with a poor painter. As long as the MUSIC is great.
      They would just like not to be distracted by the staging from enjoying the music and also the “Gesamtkunstwerk” where that applies. Is that too much to ask for?

      Opera directors are so hopelessly full of themselves, believing they have the primary role to create the performance.
      And some opera houses are just as idiotic, listing the stage director before the conductor in the program. Yes Kasper Holten, I’m looking at you.

      • Michael says:

        No – I do not go to the opera “first of all for the music”: I can do that at home. I go for the theatre, the drama – what you seem to dismiss as ‘ “Gesamtkunstwerk” where that applies’ ! As I’ve said here before, if you want a traditional production, buy a DVD or look on the internet. After over 50 years of opera going, I f do I not have time for these traditional productions, however good/great the singers. I am thrilled by this exciting development of “Regietheater” which has at last made our operatic superstars ACT! I admit I do not like all the Regietheater shows, but they always make me think deeper about operas I may have seen 50 times. And I simply do not believe that there are opera directors who do not like or care about the music and are just doing it for the high fees.

        • Bloom says:

          Good point. Hopingly the rising moronic tsunami (reactionary ” revolution”) won’t destroy the search for novelty and the reflective disposition in opera houses.

        • Tamino says:

          Which operas have you seen “50 times” as you say?
          Has it ever occured to you, that the majority of the audience are experiencing an opera for the first time?
          And that even the hardcore fans, when going for repeat performances, primarily seek out the performances they want to attend by the quality of the performers, NOT by the staging?

          I’m so sick and tired of this systemic power grab by moronic stage directors. Making no love to it, but raping it.

    • soavemusica says:

      “French whore dying from consumption” is exactly what a contemporary, theatrical director sees, and tries to make others watch, and pay for it.

      He/she/other obviously doesn`t hear the music. At all.

  • Bloom says:

    The Regietheater productions make people think and force stars rehearse more. Herr Kaufmann, at this moment of his life, seems to dislike both actions : thinking and rehearsing.
    ( Taking into account that
    Frau Kaufmann is a Regietheater director too, Herr Kaufmann is also expressing , in a very characteristic oblique fashion, some hidden marital discontent.)

    • Singeril says:

      As one who has sat and rehearsed in countless “Regietheater productions”, I can assure you that this is hardly the case. Directors may think they need to “rehearse more” but it’s actually the opposite. The rehearsals are full of talking and a waste of time for the artists. The time it takes for the directors to attempt to express some kind of new and radical idea (little is new) could be better spent on so many other aspects or not waste the time of the singers while the directors attempt to put together a concept that means almost nothing. It isn’t “all so relevant” to just try and be controversial. It’s boring and silly.

      • Michael says:

        I am amazed that you have “sat and rehearsed in countless “Regietheater productions” “. Have you ever expressed your concerns (boring and silly) to the directors concerned?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      “The Regietheater productions make people think and force stars to rehearse more.” – or it forces stars to prostitute themselves for the sake of a paycheck and make people stay home.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Anyone who wants to think deeper about an opera should study the libretto.

      • Bloom says:

        Opera means also theater , living theater, not just a libretto.

      • PG Vienna says:

        And it’s link to the musik

        • Bloom says:

          It is a very complex and powerful artistic experience when it succeeds. It may succeed or it may fail in either ”traditional” or ”modern”(Regietheater) productions. Nevertheless, I consider that the connection with the present time can ensure a deeper and more satisfying operatic experience – admitting also a stronger possibility of failure.

      • Michael says:

        Are you suggesting that reading the libretto is there only way of thinking deeper about an opera?

    • Bloom says:

      There are , of course, good and bad Regietheater approaches, more or less harmonized with the original operatic material. But to say that opera should be only popular/populistic entertainment and should be disconnected from everyday problems and that its various directorial readings should avoid tackling serious issues of contemporary age is very reactionary and reveals intellectual and spiritual pauperity.

      • Tamino says:

        You are beating your straw man. Nobody said stagings should be disconnected from our times and world. But there is a balance to strike.
        Stage directors are only interpreters. Not creators. The creators are the composers and librettists.

        • Bloom says:

          Kaufmann said it. Opera means ”a distracting night out” . Distracting from what? From ”problems”. Contemporary problems. If the star needs brainwashing so much, he can find it in drugs , alcohol , dubious ideologies and mass adoration .

        • Michael says:

          And there I was thinking that “creators” of an opera production included the conductor, the singers, the stage and costume creators, the many brilliant opera lighting technicians and, not least, the audience itself. Is it really enough to learn and understand an opera by just reading the score (full score, of course) and the original libretto even if it’s in a language you don’t understand?

          • Tamino says:

            Nobody said it’s enough. There is always so much more. But the score is the alpha and omega.

            As far as the libretto is concerned: sure it matters more or less.
            But the music rules.
            Would La Boheme sung on lalala be great music still? Absolutely.
            Would Tristan sung in Tibetic still be enjoyable? You bet.

            Would people come to hear only the libretto of La Boheme as spoken theater? Not really?

          • JJ says:

            ‘Would La Boheme sung on lalala be great music still? Absolutely.’

            Somehow I seriously doubt that opera goers would pay to hear La Boheme, or any other opera, on lalala. On the other hand, I agree with you that people wouldn’t come to hear only the libretto as spoken theater. I also agree that stage directors are only interpreters, possibly not even that. Who would come to watch only the stage director’s ‘genius’ RT work as panto, without the music and the libretto? Voyeurs who can’t get enough of nudists, I suppose.

      • PG Vienna says:

        Well we first need talented directors who know the music , not charlatans imposing their views about what they suppose our world is.

    • Fritz Grantler says:

      “….hidden martial discontent..” ? What do you know about his private life ?

      • Bloom says:

        He s got a Regietheater director at home. His wife. How can he possibly make such indiscriminate accusations? ( He used to express more nuanced views on this topic. But here his views are so radical that I suspect some tensions are shaking his marital heaven too.)

        • guest says:

          Interview too short and too small a part on this topic, so it came out a little harsh. Not his usual way of talking about it and certainly not with his wife. “Distracting” does not only mean laughing and superficiality but also tragic things – not the problems of our daily life. Remember him talking about catharsis at an opera night. You should know a little more about him before you insult him. Or is SD your only source?

  • Ted says:

    You mean the audience is telling the directors what they like and not the other way around. Outrageous!

  • Paul Barte says:

    No one is forcing opera companies to hire the directors that are abusive to the works being performed. The best directors respect the material.

    • PG Vienna says:

      Opera are forcing these directors on us. In Vienna the record salesman who passes for the opera manager force them on us and his chief conductor Philippe Jordan. We cannot do anything about that , despite repeated booing. Jordan is going in 2025 or before despite a very strong support from the paying public.

  • Clem says:

    If Kaufman defines opera as a distracting evening out, he might as well quit and stick to kitschy Christmas albums.

  • Chicagorat says:

    It is an intriguing theory, but it does not hold water. Declining sales are hitting both opera houses and symphony orchestras. The real culprits are what I call “personality cults gone wrong” and failure of leadership.

    For the sake of argument, let’s draw the line at organizations with more than $200M in endowment. In this rather rarefied universe, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is, to my knowledge, the world’s worst performer, having lost 40% of it audience since the 2017/18 season. (If SD readers are aware of an organization with $200M in endowment that has done worse, please publish the data).

    Muti is the poster child of a “personality cult gone wrong”. And Alexander is the poster child for leadership failure. We don’t need to repeat here the reasons: we have been comprehensive in the past, and we are after all in the Holiday Seasons. The Chicago Classical Review, the only authoritative classical music journalistic outlet left in the Second City has just published its list of the top ten Chicago classical music performances of 2022, and it is self-explanatory. Not one of Muti’s performances made the cut.

    And how could it be otherwise, while the Bill Clinton of classical music’s time his focused on post rehearsal exertions, and giving interviews intently focused on metoo, the need to call Asian people Oriental, his nationalistic hopes in the good people of culture in the ranks of Italy’s neofascist parties, and the crucial importance of keeping the N-word in Verdi’s librettos? And while the orchestra, under his watch, hires family members in blind auditions and denies tenure to one of the best loving horn players? And while the VP of Artistic Planning has been recombining the same trite, stale programs for more than a decade?

    And whilst Muti gives these inteviews and deliver abysimal perfomances on the podium, and the orchestra loses its best talent, what his Alexander doing? He appoints Muti MD Emeritus for Life.

    Organizations like the CSO, if they exist, have only themselves to blame.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      A $200 million endowment does not provide much to the bottom line annually.

      • tommie says:

        Perhaps. The CSO has $405M in endowment though. In light of that, their performance in terms of ticket sales is … well, just very very bad.

    • Giacomo Z. says:

      Speaking of Muti and opera; the Italian Maestro has a superiority complex towards stage directors. In the past several years, he only conducted operas staged by his daughter Chiara.

      The father-daughter’s recent Don Giovanni in Turin was a sorry mess full of obscure references to Pasolini (which had absolutely nothing to do with the opera itself) and overdoses of sexual innuendos. The Maestro explained how important sexual innuendos were for Mozart. We needed his deep erudition to reveal this secret aspect of Mozart’s operas to the world.

    • PG Vienna says:

      Muti conducting shortcomings have nothing to do with his views on the current world.

    • Luca says:

      Hors sujet.

  • Andrew Powell says:

    “People have found that going to the opera [means] having our problems rubbed constantly in [our faces]. That doesn’t help much.”


    At the same time, there are a lot of full houses. But then people don’t want to see the dumb stagings twice: they are a one-night titillation for a television-and-film-arts crowd that has hijacked our theatres and is using performing-arts budgets to make camera-product. Munich’s new Idomeneo, Tristan und Isolde, Peter Grimes, Nos, Falstaff, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Teufel von Loudun, Les Troyens and Lohengrin are for the garbage truck, together with at least three dozen other productions from the 20 years Kaufmann references.

  • James Weiss says:

    I feel this way about film. There was a time I went to the cinema every week and had multiple choices. Now, I’m lucky if I can find 2 or 3 films I want to see in an entire calendar year. It’s not about not wanting to think and just be entertained. I came of age in the 1970s and there were plenty of thought provoking films but they were also entertaining. That’s lost today. There’s only two kinds of films today: juvenile or woke, for lack of a better word. Boring films that seem to simply indulge whatever issue the filmmaker wants to shove down our throats. So I opt out. In 2022, the only good film I saw was Benediction. The same thing is happening throughout our culture.

  • Mervin Partridge says:

    If he does not like those productions why does he do them? The people who run companies, the singers who sing in productions they hate, the the conductors who put up with it (so they don’t have to waste their time having an emotional opinion about the music) are just as responsible.

    • Tiredofitall says:


    • Singeril says:

      When a singer signs on to do a new production, they do not know what the director’s “concept” (or lack thereof) is going to be.

    • Ebbaanders says:

      He has often said that he does not like to leave a production but prefers to discuss with the director and try to change things. He has a special reputation with directors for questioning everything. and of course, when he signs the contract years before, he doesn’t know the director’s concept.

  • Morgan says:

    Wholly self-serving comments by Kaufmann as I read it.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    I’d like it to become standard for directors to take curtain calls in addition to the principals and the conductor.

    That way, the audience can express their opinion of the production as well as of the performance.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    I love the Opera- I never sleep that well at home….

  • Liana Alecu says:

    The Regietheater has destroyed the opera.

  • zweito says:

    80% seats unsold for season premier “Dialogues des Carmélites” in 2 weeks time at Metropolitan Opera, with a cast of Bertrand de Billy, Ailyn Perez, Christine George, Sabine Devieilhe, Jamie Barton, Alice Coote…
    What can you say?

  • Fritz Grantler says:

    Herr Kaufmann has been “singing” in such productions for years – Hypocrite !

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It’s called employment, not hypocrisy. The opposite is unemployment.

    • Singeril says:

      If he wants to sing in opera, he has no choice. He doesn’t pick the director or the concept…and doesn’t know the concepts before going in…it is not revealed to the artists.

  • Micaela Bonetti says:

    “I put a spell on you!”, sorry, Herr Kaufmann.
    Sorry, but if even YOU, the most celebrated and today’s beloved tenor cannot oppose to Regietheater directors, who can possibly do?

    • Tamino says:

      It’s technically difficult for him to oppose the directors in situ.
      As an expensive star tenor, he usually comes in only in the middle of the rehearsal process, just in time for the premiere. At that point most of the staging is decided and trained by choir and other soloists. He can’t ask for major changes without creating havoc for his colleagues and the whole process then. He as a professional also wants to be reinvited.

      • Micaela Bonetti says:

        Yes, of course, I know all this.

        Anyway a Callas had the guts.

      • guest says:

        “he usually comes in only in the middle of the rehearsal process, just in time for the premiere” – not true! We know better in Vienna or Munich. He is not like Domingo or Pavarotti.

  • Laura F says:

    I also think there’s a big problem with touting sloppy, arrogant talents as “greatest in the world” when there are obvious flaws. It sets a low benchmark and makes every day punters think those “stars” are as good as it can get.

    Also, star fees beggar every one else in the industry.

    Thanks Joni

  • Carlos says:

    He is right. Great guy. Beczala thinks and says the same.

  • Don Alfonso says:

    I think blaming the directors is so simplistic.
    Verdi faced censorship with Rigoletto or Ballo for trying to show on stage things there were unacceptable at that time, like killing a king on stage.
    Maybe the reality is more complex. Let’s look at the music streaming which made very accessible tons of recordings of a better musical quality than today singers or conductors. And opera lovers had the time to listen to them during the pandemic lockdowns. How about that?

  • Roderick Nash says:

    Jonas Kaufman is right on target when he says the directors today are killing opera. The Met’s new DON CARLOS is hideous; the recent PETER GRIMES is ludicrous; the latest RIGOLETTO was atrocious, no more stage Nazis, please! I love these operas, but I cancelled my tickets to all of these performances because they are UGLY PRODUCTIONS! I’m sick of paying for and sitting through depressing, mean-spirited, psychotic opera productions by selfserving, lamebrained directors!

  • hanshopf says:

    It‘s not the directors. They are freelancers in a free market, doing what they think will get them their next job. If market expectations were different, directors would change their approaches in a split second. It’s a corrupt system, rewarding mediocrity. As absurd as it may sound: there is too much money in it. In Germany, the center of Regietheater, riskless money is coming in regardless of success (measured in ticket sales).
    There is no need for granting for example to a very solid and respectable conductor like Mr Runnicles at Deutsche Oper Berlin a salary, which suggests only 10 people in the world can do what he is doing.
    The whole business is corrupted. And you can see it and hear it as well. Much to easy to single out directors.

  • Novagerio says:

    Regi-Theater used to be about the stage direction and the general concept of a (normally) brilliant director. In the old days, Regi-Theater was represented by brilliant people like Götz Friedrich, Joachim Herz, Ruth Berghaus, Harry Kupfer and Nikolaus Lehnhoff, to mention just a few.
    What we today call “Euro-trash” (what usually goes on in Germany, and sadly almost constantly in Bayreuth) has to do with “Regisseur-Theater”, wich is far from the same.
    That’s when a pompous egomaniac “director” who can’t even read a vocal score thinks he’s the bigger genius, and that his/her ideas are better and more interesting than the composer’s and the librettist’s.

  • MMcGrath says:

    A bit facile. Said directors are employed by addled house management and subsidized by often uncritical and overly generous local government (tax payers!).

    • guest says:

      Well, sure it’s more complicated than this, but he did not say this during the panel discussion but in an interview conducted over the phone. Anyway, he could have said a lot more because he is VERY talkative and that is what was left after editing.

      • Bloom says:

        Well, ”what was left after editing”, if this is the case, is terribly poor and doesn’t put him in a good light. Very unprofessional material.

      • Bloom says:

        It is necessary that he should officially clarify and also further nuance his position because what comes out of this overly ”edited” interview is not consistent with many of his previous views.

        • guest says:

          I wasn’t sure till now but now I am sure I know who you are. You always twist the conversation that way, trying to demonstrate that your interlocutor meant what, in fact, he didn’t.
          By the way, do you have time in your life for anything besides attacking Kaufmann? Like sleeping, eating – because work is out of question, too time-consuming.
          I’ll tell you the same thing that somebody just told to Muti-hater “Your – in this case Kaufmann hatred borders on mental illness at this stage”.

          • Bloom says:

            So you’ve got no idea whether the interview was “edited” or not. I genuinely believed that you knew something from “the inside”. But it is clear that you know nothing and the actual situation remains as disappointing as it seems to be ( as far as I am concerned , because many others are celebrating some kind of victory …)

          • Annel says:

            Of course it’s her, recognisable all over the place and after just one sentence. After a 10-year career on his Fb page, here she has found a wonderful new environment to develop her illness

          • Bloom says:

            ( Trying to keep the loonies on the path: “You lock the door and throw away the key/And there’s someone in your head, but it’s not me. ” )

  • Hilary says:

    ‘ lack of ear-friendly new works’

    Sounds a bit vacuous. That would be Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu consigned to the dustbin. Sometimes listeners want to be challenged.

  • Peter says:

    Jonas Kaufmann must be one of the singers accepting to be part of the most terrible Regietheater productions over the years… now he sees the results, when there were years he could have simply say “it’s wrong”… and it’s too late! Talk about hypocrisy!

  • JJ says:

    Too little, too late? Or a feeling that the tide is turning and the wish to position himself at the forefront of the new wave, JK the hero who dares to criticize the system?

    As a few people here have mentioned in their comments, JK isn’t a stranger to such productions and he has never intimated in interviews that he sees anything wrong with them until now. To the people arguing that JK can’t afford to get in the various opera managements’ bad books if he criticizes productions, I say they can’t have it both ways. Either JK’s name is guaranteed to put bums on seats, in which case even the most obtuse management would go out of their way to accommodate his critique of the production he finds himself in, or his stature isn’t by far such as adoring fans would make people believe, in which case he can’t afford critique if he wants to be invited again.

    Secondly, the argument that he (or any other opera singer) doesn’t know what he is committing himself to when he signs the contract doesn’t hold much water either. Singers aren’t booked decades in advance, just a very few years in advance. Book them more than 2-3 years in advance and it’s guaranteed to create more problems than it solves, there will be lots of cancellations, with the management busily looking for replacements. Opera productions last, as a rule, longer than five years, so in many cases there’s a fair chance singers know what they are signing for. In exceptional cases the production change caughts them between contract and first performance, but even in such cases the singers are notified well in advance as a rule, and can pull out if they don’t like the new production, as was the case with Alagna and Kurzak half an year ago, who were notified 7-8 months in advance that the Liceu’s Tosca production was being replaced.

    • ebbaanders says:

      “he has never intimated in interviews that he sees anything wrong with them until now” – not true. But he always does this months later, so as not to damage the theater : e.g. Faust at the Met, Damnation de Faust at ONP, Aida at ONP. Many modern productions in which he was involved were only partially questionable and were on the whole good experiences: Lohengrin in Munich, Bayreuth, Scala, Traviata in Paris, Trovatore in Munich; and he enjoys working with Guth, Bösch, Warlikowski, Neuenfels.
      “his stature isn’t by far such” – of course not, the director is hired long before the singers and no manager will pay a penalty just because K. doesn’t like something. He will say “come to an agreement” (by the way, every singer has in his contract to follow instructions). If everyone ran away right away, nothing worth mentioning would ever come about. Opera is teamwork, sometimes it works better, sometimes worse, and sometimes ideal.
      Second argument not true: K. mostly did new productions where he did not yet know anything except names; in repertory performances he does not like, he did not and does not perform.

      • JJ says:

        You are contradicting yourself and/or Mr Kaufmann in every other sentence.
        A few examples:

        If Mr Kaufmann sincerely believes that these productions have DAMAGED opera for DECADES (his words but my emphasizing), any intelligent human being would WANT to “damage the theater” (quoting from your comment), because this is the only way to get rid of them and the damage they inflict not only on the art form, but also on the business model. You wouldn’t want to do the opposite, as you state in your comment.

        “no manager will pay a penalty just because K. doesn’t like something.”
        No one talks about penalties, this isn’t how the system works. All incentive a stage director needs to be very amenable to the idea of changes is a quiet word in his ear by the opera director. Stage directors are freelancers. The opera director is the keeper of the purse strings. All that it takes is the intimation by the opera director that the stage director won’t be invited again if he doesn’t do the pretty, this particular opera won’t be scheduled past the run mentioned in the contract, and the production would be shelved at the first opportunity, thus depriving the stage director of royalties. The opera director would have that quiet word with the stage director if the public or a singer who puts bums on seats criticizes the production; the director won’t do so for small-fry who doesn’t put bums on seats. All opera directors care about is bums on seats. No need for penalties and the like, you are either naive or being obtuse on purpose. I have witnessed myself productions changed on the quiet, when the more gratuitous degenerations flaunted on the stage were vigorously opposed by the public and press. Stage directors practically trip over themselves in their haste to remove the offending bits if their future paycheck is in jeopardy; there’s no difficulty in removing ANY bits because such productions have no dramatic coherence to speak of, you can take bits out or put new bits in at random, no difference whatever, still a collection of unrelated aberrations.

        “If everyone ran away right away, nothing worth mentioning would ever come about. Opera is teamwork, sometimes it works better, sometimes worse, and sometimes ideal.”
        You don’t say so. Do you have more trivialities like the above in your stock of bon mots? How does this tally with JK’s statement that regietheater productions have damaged opera long-term, to the point that now we have to “pay our bills for what we’ve done to opera over the past decades”? (His own words.) Not much of those “better” or “ideal” or “worth mentioning” productions around, otherwise he wouldn’t talk about BIG lasting damage. Lasting damage, in ANY field, is the result of toxic circumstances prevailing above normal and/or felicitous circumstances, not the result of just a few aberrations popping up now and then.

        “Second argument not true: K. mostly did new productions where he did not yet know anything except names; in repertory performances he does not like, he did not and does not perform.”
        Proof? Don’t expect anyone to believe in your apologetic campaign on behalf of Mr Kaufmann without proof.
        And how come he does criticize productions months later, according to the beginning of your comment, if he doesn’t perform in productions he doesn’t like? If he performs only in productions he likes, there would be no reason for critique. And how does his avoiding productions he doesn’t like tally with your statement that he doesn’t know what he is committing himself to? If he doesn’t know, it wouldn’t be possible for him to avoid productions he doesn’t like. Lastly, if he does know the names, as you say, this is enough information. If he doesn’t know what to expect when he sees the name of one of usual suspects in print, his intelligence is sadly below par. And should he find himself booked, despite all reasonable precautions taken, for a new production, I don’t believe for a moment the opera house wouldn’t inform him of the new developments, as Liceu did with Alagna and Kurzak last spring for a production scheduled to premier in January 2023. New productions don’t happen overnight, you know, there’s milling about at least one year in advance because no opera house dives into the new season without planing it in detail months in advance; it’s in the opera director’s interest to notify important people about a change in plans, but he wouldn’t bother to notify small-fry.

        I leave it to you to spot the rest of your contradictions in your apologetic comment. Homework for you. Needless to say, you didn’t convince me.

        JK has greatly profited by the system, a system that, according to his opinion expressed in this interview, has alienated audiences over the last 20-30 years, exactly the period that coincides with JK’s career. He wants it both ways – to laugh all the way to the bank (can be accomplished only by being complicit), AND pretend he has a conscience. I don’t expect small-fry to criticize the system, they can’t afford it, they need the employment; it is for the big fish in the pond to make sure both art form and business model aren’t harmed long-term. JK has never lifted a finger. Perhaps he is small-fry, after all, or he isn’t but likes the fat paycheck more than the art. It is rather hypocritical of him to expect the public to fight his battles for him (I don’t mean “battles” literally, don’t get excited), with him waltzing in in the end to take the credit, as he tries to do in this interview. Should the art form ever get rid of the regietheater aberrations, it won’t be for JK’s contribution, but for the small contributions of innumerable, mostly anonymous people, who wouldn’t let themselves bamboozled into believing this fraud is “art.”

        • ebbaanders says:

          Proof: his new productions (and only new productions he sometimes criticized later. I do not contradict myself. You should read more carefully). Damnation: Monnaie, Genf, Paris/ Fierrabras: Zürich/ Idomeneo: Zürich/ Fidelio: Stuttgart, Zürich, Paris, München, Salzburg/ Titus: Zürich/ Königskinder: Zürich/ Rigoletto: Zürich/ Parsifal: Zürich, München, Met, Wien/ Carmen: London, Zürich, Mailand, Salzburg, Orange/ Don Carlo(s): Zürich, München, Paris/ Boheme: Zürich/ Manon: Chicago/ Tosca: Zürich, London, München/ Lohengrin: München, Bayreuth, Melbourne/ Werther: Paris, Met/ Adriana: London/ Walküre: Met/ Faust: Zürich, Met/ Ariadne: Salzburg/ Trovatore: München/ Forza: München/ Manon Lescaut: London, München/ Andrea Chenier: London, München/ Cav-Pag: Salzburg/ Meistersinger: München/ Fanciulla: Wien/ Aida: Paris/ Otello: London, München, Neapel/ Tote Stadt: München/ Tristan: München.
          Sorry for the german city names. I am not english. No claim to completeness.
          But I can research facts (and not insult others).
          Happy New Year!

        • ebbaanders says:

          “All that it takes is the intimation by the opera director … opera won’t be scheduled past the run mentioned in the contract … production would be shelved at the first opportunity, thus depriving the stage director of royalties” – This is true for musicals and musical revues but not for the opera business. The director doesn’t get paid for every single performance, no repertory opera house could afford that (the productions stay on the schedule for years) and even in the stagione business the schedule is already fixed for a whole year regardless of the success of the production. ” Stage directors practically trip over themselves in their haste to remove the offending bits” – Maybe in the USA, but not in Europe. ” Removing ANY bits because such productions have no dramatic coherence to speak of, you can take bits out or put new bits in at random, no difference whatever” – Are you talking about operas? Ridiculous! Opera is not a musical revue. By the way, none of the new productions in which he participated was really horrible modern director’s theater. All of them had their great moments or were simply a matter of taste. To judge by the name alone beforehand is simply stupid. Every director has good and bad works, whether modern or traditional.
          I ignore the level of the rest of your defamations. It speaks for itself.

  • Helen Kamioner says:

    poppycock and bilge….i’d rather have a wheel chair, clock and raincoat than swordfights and phony greenery. I adore Regietheater and it’s Regiesseurs because I care about relevance in my entertainment.

  • capybara says:

    The truth is: the audience is dying. Younger people ( not boomer) are not interested in opera in general, because there is a more convenient way of entertainment(internet) and/or controversy discussions (internet) or publicity(internet).