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Jonas Kaufmann—Romantic Arias
18 Feb 2008

Jonas Kaufmann—Romantic Arias

Jonas Kaufmann’s debut album is a treat to the ears of opera lovers.

Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Marco Armiliato (cond.)

Decca 475 9966 [CD]

$15.99  Click to buy

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.

Cheryl Dowden

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