Vienna State Opera, April 2016. After the thunderous applause following “E lucevan le stelle,” the tenor hit from Puccini’s Tosca, the aria is repeated once more. Then the conductor moves onward, but the diva fails to appear on stage. Is she upset because the aria was repeated, or was she simply expecting more applause? Whatever the case may be, the tenor shows great presence of mind, singing “Non abbiamo il soprano” (“We haven’t got a soprano”), perfectly improvised in the style of Puccini - winning the hearts of the public even more, if this is at all possible when we’re talking about Jonas Kaufmann.
Since the Munich tenor is already everyone’s favorite, someone who must have raised his hand particularly often when talents were being distributed - from good looks to intelligence to acting ability. Not to mention his extremely versatile voice with its dark baritone coloring . . .
In the space of a few years, Kaufmann has achieved everything a singer can hope to achieve.Being everywhere does take its toll, but Kaufmann is smart enough to cancel when his voice requires it. Naturally not without personally informing his fans in an open letter - a true star and a remarkable person.
1996 reorientation following a vocal crisis; Kaufmann finds his “real,” darker voice
1998 Così fan tutte in Giorgio Strehler’s final production
Starting 2001 engagement at the Zurich Opera House, after which he sings main roles at nearly all of Europe’s renowned opera houses
2006 international breakthrough with La Traviata at the Met
Solo CDs with music from Wagner and Verdi to Schubert, and from Puccini to operetta
Winner of many awards and named “Singer of the Year” (Opernwelt, Echo Klassik, Musical America, International Opera Awards)
Did you know?
As a child, Kaufmann is an enthusiastic choir singer; at first he doesn’t want to make a career out of singing so he doesn’t lose his enjoyment of it, and studies mathematics instead.
His parents, a kindergarten teacher and insurance clerk who had fled from the GDR, own an extensive classical record collection, and his grandfather also sang Wagner for pleasure while accompanying himself on the piano.
After the audience shouts insults during a performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 2003 in Salzburg, Kaufmann makes himself unpopular by directly addressing the public with the words, “Anyone is free to go home.”
He is a father of three, but separated from his wife, mezzo-soprano Margarete Joswig, in 2014.
Kaufmann is not in favor of specializing in a particular range of roles, finding that the different roles enhance one another, and seeing the alternation between Mozart and Wagner as a “play of yin and yang” that provides balance.
Kaufmann also has a great love of literature. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he says, “Rather than shutting off my brain and turning on the TV, I prefer reading,” and continues, “For goodness sake, anyone who sings Carmen should have read Mérimée’s little novelette.”
In the same interview, he admits that he’d be very excited to play a film role without singing at all.
An Italian magazine invented an affair between Kaufmann and Madonna; he denied it, but added that he admires her ability to continually reinvent herself and would be delighted to sing a duet with her.