Saturday, August 16, 2014


Jonas Kaufmann is down under for two recitals in Sydney (one down, one to go) and one in Melbourne. The programme is the same for all three. Just 24 hours before the last (the second Sydney concert) there are still plenty of seats available (some 300 at a quick count and that doesn't include the blocked off choir stalls) despite the huge acclaim which precedes him, glowing reviews and substantial discounting.

Quoted front of house prices are $145 - $365 plus a $5.00 to $8.50 booking fee. So totting up two good seats, programme, drinks (let alone dinner) and parking (only rich people drive anyway) and there's not much change from a thousand dollars. If that wasn't enough to dissuade fans or would be fans, tickets were initially coupled with subscriptions to Opera Australia's 2014 (not 2015 as originally written, typo, sorry) season.

There's a pricing problem here and it's lose-lose. The house should be full to overflowing, CDs walking out the door, preferably just signed, and as many people as possible hearing him with opera in general the beneficiary which one assumes is what the promoter, Opera Australia, had in mind.

The programming was certainly everyman friendly even if everyman couldn't go - go for what was for many probably the only chance to hear such a famous voice live. We, for this very reason, went to the first Sydney concert. I had failed to get tickets in Munich, despite a good connection, although admittedly it was his Manrico debut night.

'Recondita armonia'    Tosca
'Improviso'                   Andrea Chénier
'La vita è inferno'        La forza del destino
'Vesti la guibba'           I Pagliacci

'La fleur que tu m'avais jetée'      Carmen
'Pourquoi me réveiller'                 Werther
'Mamma, quel vino è generoso'   Cavalleria rusticana


'Du bist die Welt für mich'
'E lucevan le stelle'
'Die ist mein ganzes Herz'

The above were all bracketed with excerpts from similar genre works and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra sounded particularly good conducted by Kaufmann's man with the stick, the very genial gentle smiling unassuming Jochen Rieder.

I wasn't going to say anything about Herr Kaufmann, what with it all having been said before. But, unable to help myself as I am, can I say ...

His stage presence was a surprise, tending toward self effacing. The voice is well worth hearing live in that it is quite difficult to describe, and even harder to imagine from recordings. From the certainly masculine dark not gravelly but with rubbed edges midrange ( I told you it was hard) he ascends with a noticeable gear change to an all but angelic head voice. Dynamics and phrasing are lovely, and his crescendos particularly effective, bringing a gasp and sustained applause at the conclusion on the 'La Vita é inferno', the highlight of the night for me, moments of wonderful wonderful story telling.

I would dearly love to see and hear him in character where he could forget about Being Jonas. But most of all, I would love to hear him sing, diction perfect as it is, something like this which I heard (as you can) in this Andrew Ford interview - Der Leiermann, Schubert's Die Wintereisse. Here it is from Barcelona (a not well balanced pirate - but all I can find).

Addit  19th Aug:

Roger Neill lists the orchestral pieces , indeed much more than just fillers while JK sucked a sweet (he noticeably had a little something in his mouth in the bows between encores). The Bacchanale especially was great fun.


Susan Scheid said...

Such a shame about the pricing. Loved your "Being Jonas" comment, too. I've heard Kaufmann only once live, but a good once, in Parsifal, though I have to say that, for me, he wasn't "the one" that night. For me, Peter Mattei as Amfortas made the most lasting impression. But I'm not versed, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Did you really have to subscribe to the 2015 season to get Kaufmann tickets? If so, no wonder sales were slow.

wanderer said...

Well that was a good one to hear Sue.

M, as I read the 2015 season on-line, tickets to the (then) two recitals were coupled with subs and I went no further. When they announced the second Sydney concert earlier this year, I poked around at it and seats were then available for any/all. I might have misconstrued the first release, but really don't think so. The whole 'campaign' for want of a better term seems pretty screwy to me. The orchestra out of the black hole was good. They should do more exposed playing. Simone had that idea. But the SSO have the run on Opera in the Big Hall now I suppose.

wanderer said...

M, of course I meant 2014, and to have repeated 2015 in the comment reply to you brings Noel Coward's once / twice quip to mind. Sorry.