18 Feb 2008
Jonas Kaufmann—Romantic Arias
Jonas Kaufmann’s debut album is a treat to the ears of opera lovers.
Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
Jonas Kaufmann’s debut album is a treat to the ears of opera lovers.
This young German singer is making a fine reputation for himself in European opera houses. He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York most recently as Alfredo in La Traviata, which he is scheduled to reprise in March of this year.
So this is an eagerly awaited album on both sides of the pond. And the wait was worth it.
There are 13 tracks on the disc that represent a variety of styles. The standards are there, “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme, “La Fleur que tu m’avais jetee” from Carmen, and “E Lucevan le stelle” from Tosca. These are well sung and totally fit the title of the album in evoking the romantic feelings that their composers intended.
This tenor is building a reputation on a broader scale than those familiar arias would indicate. Some of the composers on this disc range from Flotow, to Verdi, to Wagner and include Berlioz and Gounod and Massenet. Kaufmann is a versatile singer who, here, demonstrates where his skills and talent may take him in the future. He has sung Parsifal and Florestan (Fidelio) on stage, which is even more testimony to his versatility.
The Prize Song from Die Meistersinger is beautifully rendered, and I hope it might be a precursor to his singing that role down the road.
Each of the selections on the album requires a different degree of passion and Kaufmann gives us that. The gentle song of love to Mimi in La Boheme that rings with his new found passion for her is contrasted with the beautiful “Pourquoi mr revellier” from Werther, an aria of unfulfilled love and passion and the precursor to Werther’s death. Kaufmann clearly understands the different passionate needs of the arias and fulfills those emotions..
I was particular impressed with his attention to the words and his diction in the three languages sung on this album. I want a singer to sing the words and not slur them so they are unrecognizable as language. Kaufmann is as clear in his native German as in he French and Italian.
There is a rich, dark and intriguing quality to Kaufmann’s voice. His commitment to the works he is singing is readily apparent. I suspect that over time the darker tenor roles such as Cavaradossi and Don Carlo will be more his style than the lighter Alfredo. I found his delivery effortless and his demeanor very romantic indeed!
Missing from this debut effort is anything by Mozart. Kaufmann includes many of the composer’s work in his repertoire. One would hope that the lack of any Mozart on this disc might be a precursor to a disc of Mozart or German composers in the future. So if anyone at Decca is listening………..
This is a tenor for the 21st Century who has a fresh sound and some fresh ideas and will grace our opera houses for a long time. His good looks as well as his beautiful voice will continue to give rise to the romantic leading man image that this album is all about.