Jonas Kaufmann quits Vienna broadcast

Jonas Kaufmann quits Vienna broadcast


norman lebrecht

December 03, 2022

Slippedisc Vienna correspondent Larry L Lash tells us that the tenor has withdrawn from tonight’s performance of the sold-out Andrea Chenier, which has received generally appalling reviews. The show is being broadcast live on ORF.

Kaufmann’s replacement is Stefano La Colla.

La Colla had about three hours to prepare. He sang Cavaradossi in Tosca only last night.

UPDATE: Kaufmann’s replacement is singing off stage. Playing the role is Niv Hoffman, an Israeli opera director who works at the Wiener Staatsoper.



  • Bloom says:

    It would have been appalling for him to sing tonight. I wish him well.

    • CRogers says:

      Thank you to Bloom. If he’s ill he is right to withdraw. It’s dangerous (and I’m stating the obvious about singers and vocal doctors) to sing with a full cold. As we have all experienced when get a cold it’s horrible feeling. The vocal cords swell with the infection and they collide instead of just vibrating at the particular frequency of pitch. And when you (Bloom) wish him well you have people giving your comment the thumbs down. So what those people are saying is, they’d like him to hurt/injure/damage himself! Has JK done something personal to these individuals? If not what’s your beef? Speak up. Otherwise it’s just really disturbing that so many peoples mental health is in such a twisted state.

  • A.L. says:

    Surely ordered to withdraw by his agents, to prevent the general public from hearing their client in subpar form. And of course to also protect their profiteering off of him and vice versa.

    • Vienna calling says:

      ‘Ordered by his agent’… you really have no idea who’s boss. Greetings from an agent.
      PS: how exactly does profiteering and vice versa work?

  • guest says:

    “appalling reviews” – that is an outright lie. They were somewhat mixed but good for Kaufmann. It is easy to check. Mr. Lash was the only negative.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The trustworthy ones were negative.

      • guest says:

        “ones”? ONE!

      • Tamino says:

        Not for Kaufmann, only for his random acting, supposedly due to lack of stage direction.

        • norman lebrecht says:


          • guest says:

            Not correct: ” sang carelessly, kept playing with dimuendi, …”. “random acting” – it is news to me that most of today’s tenors are known for their intense playing. Of course there were rehearsals for the interaction with Agresta (début) and Petean (not known for great acting), K. knows the staging. He had a series of performances with Harteros in april 2018, which Otto Schenk once again supervised. Correct handling of the facts could not harm this site.

  • Niv Hoffman says:

    I did have the pleasure of portraying Andrea Chenier on stage tonight and I am indeed a member of the Vienna Opera staff directors team – but I cannot take the credit for doing the revival of this specific production. Having revived the production once in the past, it made sense that it would be easier for me to jump in and walk the part in short notice.

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    It’s awful when the singing is offstage. That happened once in Brussels when the star took sick just before the first night. The replacement loked like a mime artist.

    • waltraud riegler says:

      This “happened” when Kaufmann replaced Beczala in Salzburg 2012…. Sometimes its the only solution! I witnessed situations like this more than once elsewhere.

      • Diane Valerie says:

        Indeed, it happens frequently. Beczala also sang Lohengrin from the side of the stage in Zurich replacing an ailing Jovanovich whilst the director (Homoki) “walked” the part. Makes sense; at least the director would be familiar with the blocking. Many opera houses don’t have covers.

    • אלין says:

      Never heard of it…what does it mean ? The singing off stage ? How does it work ?

  • Dixie says:

    Why is it that I am NOT surprised? For those who are interested, please check out my long comment on the review of the first performance in which I discuss repertoire and health.

  • PG Vienna says:

    Right to run away from Bogdan awful choice of stage directors. Poor Vienna Staatsoper !

    • Tamino says:

      It’s the free part of the world, you can have any opinion you want, and even speak it, but please inform yourself about who originally chose the stage director for this production.

  • Stuart says:

    World’s greatest tenor.

  • Rosa says:

    I’ve got tickets for 9/12. No idea of what to expect, then.

  • Dorothea Lenhart says:

    es waren 2 Kritiken, die durchwachsen waren, natürlich nicht, die des Kritikers dieser Seite. Aber es ist ja Herrn Lebrecht eine große Freude, daß Jonas Kaufman absagen mußte. So hat er wieder mal ein Thema seines Lieblingsfeindes. Ich warte noch darauf, wann bei anderen Künstlern eine Absage mit so großer Häme kommentiert wird.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      What utter rubbish. I have no hostility for JK, or any other singer, for that matter. Ms Dorothea Lenhart needs to learn to read English.

    • waltraud riegler says:

      Carlos Alvarez hat wegen Erkrakung schon vor der Serie abagen müssen. Beczala hat verschiedene Auftritte in den letzten 2 Wochen wegen Covid abgesagt. Ein Problem schent es nur mit Kaufmann zu geben, da muss man (NL ganz besonders) draufhauen. Erbärmlich ist das!

      • dixie says:

        Although your comment is in German, which I can read and understand perfectly well, I prefer to respond in English, so that my comment will not be sacked! There IS a problem with ONLY JK. Álvarez and Beczala cancelled ENTIRE SERIES OF PERFORMANCES, which were clear statements not only for opera-goers but also for the theaters/concert halls. JK, for whatever reason, is doing it bit by bit, leaving fans in the dark and maybe even the theaters/concert halls. This is not illegal, but it is, in my opinion, neither fair nor honest.

  • Tancredi says:

    How Operatic.

  • M McGrath says:

    What a mess! The substitutes are the saviors of the evening. Whether the evening is worth saving is another question. In the way olden days, 1970s, if the star got sick, the opera was pulled and another opera in its place. I experienced this with Luisa Miller in Vienna when Christa Ludwig got sick. Rigoletto popped up instead:)

  • Joel Kemelhor says:

    I am puzzled by the lack– in Europe — of singers covering lead roles. At the major U.S. houses it’s not unusual for a “first night” singer not be scheduled for all dates. That way another artist, guaranteed one or more performances, would be more willing to stand by.

  • CRogers says:

    I remember an Otello with Opera North some years ago. Otello was ill and it was excruciating from beginning to end for us in the audience and I’m sure for him. He just wasn’t able to sing 50/60% of the notes, at the very least. Certainly no cover. He should have cancelled. I feared for him. If he’d have sustained long term injury could he have sued?

  • אלין says:

    How can such a thing happen ? What a mess ! Weren’t enough rehearsals ?

  • Fritz Grantler says:

    Kaufmann – Time to retire…and take Domingo with you…