LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 15.5

Help for OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives


Next Message | Previous Message
Next in Topic | Previous in Topic
Next by Same Author | Previous by Same Author
Chronologically | Most Recent First
Proportional Font | Monospaced Font


Join or Leave OPERA-L
Reply | Post New Message
Search Archives

Subject: Fwd: Jonas Kaufmann: The New Corelli?
From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 21 Dec 2017 08:02:53 -0500

text/plain (306 lines)

Thanks to Stefan Zucker, we have the opportunity to read a sound and
sober assessment of Jonas Kaufmann, the singer; unusually attractive
photos included.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bel Canto Society <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 6:02 AM
Subject: Jonas Kaufmann: The New Corelli?
To: [log in to unmask]

Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200
Years Vol.3 by Stefan Zucker
Having trouble viewing this email? Click here
*Bel Canto Society Newsletter

Serving Opera Fanatics Since 1968
*Jonas Kaufmann: In German opera he feels the words. In Italian opera he
doesn't and is gutteral.*
The final section of vol. 3 consists of my analysis of the recordings of a
considerable number of today's tenors. Below is a sample: Jonas Kaufman,
who from a technical point of view follows in the footsteps of Del Monaco.
If you like the quality of the reviewing, please help us pay for the
printing of the book. https://www.belcantosociety.

All contributions will be listed on our site.

Bel Canto Society,Inc. is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization
incorporated in New York, and contributions to it are tax exempt for all
U.S. residents to the full extent of the law.

*Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200
by Stefan Zucker
Four Lowered-larynx Tenors

Jonas Kaufmann: The New Corelli?

During the course of drooling over Kaufmann in the booklet to *Jonas
Kaufmann: Romantic Arias*1 Roger Pines quotes him as saying, "I love moving
from one style to another---I never get bored! I always need a challenge,
both vocally and interpretively." How self-indulgent! The question should
not be which styles do I enjoy singing but which styles can I serve best?

With rare exceptions Italian and French operas are served best by native
speakers. Consider Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, James McCracken and Jon
Vickers. To me they sound like outsiders in Italian repertory. All have
temperament. But their interpretations are compromised by faulty Italian.
(None of them could hold a conversation in that language.) Not only do they
have accents and inappropriate consonants, but their colorations and
emphases are unidiomatic. I even feel this way about Björling, his gorgeous
voice notwithstanding. (Still, his is the greatest "Ah! sì, ben mio," in
the 1939 *Trovatore*; this "Ah! sì, ben mio" is available as a free sample
at /audio/

Kaufmann too can be fervid, but he is as unidiomatic as any of them. Not
one vowel sounds as if uttered by an Italian. That's because he sacrifices
purity of vowels to the exigencies of his lowered-larynx voice production,
even if now and again, seemingly forgetting his technique, seemingly at
random, he lets a bright vowel slip through. He's guttural---far more so
than any Italian singer, even Giacomini. It's as if he were introducing the
umlauted "o" sound, as in "Götter­dämmerung," into Italian. At forte he
doesn't sing a true "ah" but mixes it with "eh." As a result his Italian
sounds as weird and distorted as McCracken's. Worse, his darkened, throaty
vowels make his colorations "off" and his singing monotonous.

A few foreign singers do serve Italian opera well: Callas comes to mind.
She differs from Italian singers in that her "oo" vowel is exaggerated, her
consonants are heavier, and in the middle register she almost has no
vibrato. But her feeling for coloring saves her. Similarly Gencer, from
Turkey, succeeds although her voice likewise doesn't sound Italian. But
then she spoke the language impeccably. Spanish-speaking singers come
close, Carreras in particular. So can Slavs, Elena Filipova being an

I heard Kaufmann interviewed on the RAI radio program "La barcaccia." He
speaks Italian well. (Pines quotes him as bragging, "People say, 'Your
parents probably run a pizzeria'!") But in the Italian selections on *Romantic
Arias* he often gives little sign of feeling the words. His singing lacks
the warmth and subtle shifts in color and emphasis that result from doing

For the past eighty years the Met has cast few Italian or French singers.
As result I am unenthusiastic about nearly all its performances of Italian
and French opera. They may be impressive, but they don't really satisfy.
German opera is harmed less when sung by non-native speakers, and German
audiences are more likely to take them to their bosoms. (That Italy and
France have produced few world-class singers in the last half century is a
reason for opera's decline.)

I hate glottal stops (hard or rigid offsets). Caruso makes them sometimes.
So does Corelli. In "Celeste Aïda" even McCormack makes them. Kaufmann
makes them maybe more often than any other famous singer---even in soft
passages---to the point that I wince.

His intonation is spotty. He doesn't italicize by opening his tone, in the
manner of Gigli. He sounds throaty and ungainly in such lyric pieces as
"Parmi veder le lagrime" from *Rigoletto*. And his singing is full of
random accentuations---he'll accentuate any note, heedless of its place in
the harmonic structure. His "Io la vidi e il suo sorriso" from *Don Carlo*
is particularly bad in this regard. Ordinarily I don't object to vibrato,
but Kaufmann's sometimes obscures the pitch. To be sure his *voix mixte* on
the high C of "Salut! demeure" from *Faust*2 is a throwback to pre-war
French tenors.

*Jonas Kaufmann*
In German repertory Kaufman's big middle voice is a big asset, and he feels
the words. In "Durch die Wälder" from *Der Freischütz3 *he momentarily is
thrilling. As Lohengrin he creates a hush with his pianissimo. He's better
in this role in part because he feels it more, in part because the music
permits him to sing much of it at volume levels other than forte. On May
14, 2011 Kaufmann sang Siegmund in a Met matinee broadcast of *Die Walküre*.
The role was a departure for him because of the baritonal tessitura and the
required power and heft. In Act I he sounded like a thin-voiced baritone
and was somewhat underpowered. Sometimes his *passaggio* was muffled,
including on the first "Wälse!" Although he sang note by note rather than
with phrasing he did make us feel the words. In Act II he hit his stride,
singing with majesty and a wonderful legato, and was thrilling in the
confrontation with Hunding.

Still, when he sings Italian repertory not enough happens emotionally.
Certainly he is no substitute for Corelli. Corelli was proud of having
modulated his sound to capture Faust (see "Tenore del mondo," in vol. 2),
whereas on a December 10, 2011 Met matinee broadcast Kaufmann sang it with
a tone like that he used for Siegmund. The story of the opera of course
turns on Faust's transformation from an old man into a young one. When the
moment came Kaufmann's voice remained the same. It lacked the melting,
seductive lyricism, the romance, freshness, sweetness, liquidity and spin
of tone and ease of emission called for by much of the part and failed to
contrast with the lower male voices. However secure and accomplished his
singing---including a spectacular diminuendo on "Je t'aime"---his voice
production precludes him from capturing these essential aspects. Think of
what the many Gounod-period French Fausts who recorded a hundred years ago
sounded like.

On YouTube one can find examples of Kaufmann's singing prior to 1995. (See,
for example, *Jonas Kaufmann, The Tenor*.) Then his voice was bright and
focused like a laser beam. Now it's dark and spread. Recordings with
Kaufmann from before 1995 show that until then he used mask placement.
Compare his "Rêve" from *Manon* from 1993 and 2008 and you'll hear the
difference a change in technique can make. In 1993 he is placing in the
mask and his larynx is lowered. In the 1993 recording he isn't gutteral and
sounds like a tenor. In the 2008 one he sounds like he does today.

Beginning in 1995 Kaufmann studied with an American baritone living in
Germany, Michael Rhodes, a pupil of Giuseppe De Luca. Rhodes says that De
Luca taught him to maintain the position of a yawn while singing4. If you
try yawning while touching your larynx you'll find it lowers. Indeed,
Corelli practiced yawning. On online newsgroups some have called Kaufmann
Corelli's heir. Well, in terms of technique he's a fellow traveler. With
his approach there is no difficulty making diminuendos or singing softly,
as repeatedly evidenced in his recordings. To me he sounds like a throatier
Rosvaenge. But Kaufmann doesn't have his ease on top.

In *Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias5* Kaufmann has fabulous control over
dynamics (as good as Pertile's) allied to a long breath span: he sings
phrases in one breath that everybody else takes in two.

Still, try comparing any of Kaufmann's many recordings or videos of "E
lucevan le stelle" to Corelli's from the Parma *Tosca* (see the free sample
at audio/musicdownloads
and you'll find that Corelli has more warmth, personality and passion. That
Kaufmann makes a Corelli-like diminuendo on "disciogliea dai veli!" in the
middle of the aria suggests he may listen to him.

*Four Lowered-larynx Tenors*

   1. *Jonas Kaufmann: Romantic Arias*:* Bohème*,* Carmen*, *Tosca*,* Don
   Carlo* *Der Freischütz*,* Traviata*, *Manon*, *Rigoletto*,* Faust*,* Die
   Meistersinger von Nürn­berg, La Damnation de Faust*,* Werther*;Prague
   Philiharmonic Orchestra, Jana Sibera, soprano; Marco Armiliato, conductor 1
   CD Decca B0010837-02
   2. Ibid.
   3. Ibid.
   4. Mike Silverman, "German Tenor Stars in 'Die Walkuere' at Met" (*The
   Huffington Post*,April 14, 2011).
   5. *Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias*: *Giulietta e Romeo* (Riccardo
   Zand­onai), *Chénier* (3 selections, 1 w. Eva-Maria Westbroek),
   Bohème* (Ruggero Leoncavallo), *Pagliacci*, *Cavalleria *(2 selections,
   1 w. Rosa Feola, 1 w. Cristina Reale), *Mefistofele* (2 selections),
   *Fedora*, *Adriana* (2 selections), *Gioconda*, "Ombra di nube" (Don
   Licinio Refice); Orchestra e coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa
   Cecilia; Antonio Pappano, conductor 1 CD Decca B0015463-02

*Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing*
vol. 2
Just Published!

Best Books of 2015

[image: Franco Corelli_ by Stefan Zucker]
[image: Kirkus Reviews_ The Best Books of 2015]

*Kirkus Reviews* just designated *Franco Corelli and a Revolution in
: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 1 by Stefan Zucker as among
the 100 best books of 2015.

"A thought-provoking read." -- Library Journal

"Informative and fascinating." -- The Record Collector

"A detailed, passionate analysis." -- Kirkus Reviews

*For samples, also many reviews and to order use this link
Here is a PDF file of the first 14 pp. from a chapter.

Here is a PDF file of the Table of Contents.

Here is a PDF file of the List of Lithographs and Photographs.

Many photos in the book are gorgeous. From the Jean de Reszke chapter here
are history's three great tenor heartthrobs, Mario, de Reszke and Corelli.

Here is a PDF file of Stefan's biography.

See Stefan discuss Slezak and Schmidt.

See Stefan interview Simionato, Pobbe, Gencer and Gavazzi.
To see all our downloads, please use this link

To see all our products, please use this link.

To contribute to Bel Canto Society please use this link.

Bel Canto Society, a not-for-profit corporation, offers more than 400 opera
videos, CDs, DVDs, books, downloads and webcasts on its website. Our
homepage is

Telephone orders:
1-800-347-5056 <(800)%20347-5056> (North America)
212-877-5813 <(212)%20877-5813> (international)
7 AM-3 PM New York time, Monday-Thursday
7 AM-12 PM Friday
Fax orders: 212-877-2792 <(212)%20877-2792>

Our email address is [log in to unmask] Please add this
email address to your contacts to avoid having our newsletters end up in
your junk folder. Please also use this address for any inquiries
Like us on Facebook

Bel Canto Society, P.O. Box 510424, Key Colony Beach, FL 33051
SafeUnsubscribe™ [log in to unmask]
Forward this email
 | Update Profile
 | About our service provider
Sent by [log in to unmask]

OPERA-L on Facebook:
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
Modify your settings:

Back to: Top of Message | Previous Page | Main OPERA-L Page



CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager