Friday, January 16, 2009

Jonas Kaufmann in Athens: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered, updated


What are the ingredients of a great night?

People you love –
checked
Meeting people you ‘ve been cyber buddies with for many years –
checked
Some Wagner, some Puccini, some Bizet, some Massenet –
checked
A great german tenor –
checked
Meeting the great german tenor –
checked

The news I had been receiving all these days prior to the recital didn’t leave a lot of room for optimism: Jonas had cancelled his Stuttgart recital on January the 8th due to a cold and his next recitals were Mannheim (11/1) and Athens (15/1), and it was not at all certain that he would sing.

It was then when I started my cooking soup/dancing ritual and apparently it paid off. Jonas did Mannheim and on Tuesday he arrived at the Athens Hilton (some call it stalking, I call it luv).

On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday I slept/drove/worked with my fingers crossed (don’t try this at home) and I even dreamt of a friend of mine singing with Jonas (yes, I know I ‘m a weirdo).

Meeting the gurus of the Kaufmann mania (Hariclea + Marion) at the Athens Megaron was on the list too and at 20.29, after the ticketholder stood us up 'till the very last minute, we entered the (99% full) Hall and took our seats.

After a Wagnerian rendition of Guglielmo Tell’s overture by the Athens State Orchestra, Jonas finally appeared, in his black tux, curls falling into his eyes, a bit unshaved too.


"Recondita armonia" left me gelido, terrified maybe: he sounded a lot sicker than I had expected and insecure. And “Che gelida manina” was to follow. I was sweating thinking of the high C.
He, wasn't.

His Rodolfo gained secure-ness after a few seconds, and it was emotional, beautifuly sung and the high C left me with a wide smile.

It wasn’ t very easy, even for a trained ear/eye to understand that Jonas was using “tricks” and his rare but also strange technique to overcome the various mines of the partitura due to the recent cold, moving from one vocal “area” to another even in a single phrase.


Ach! So fromm, ach! So traut” from von Flotow’s Martha is not a personal favourite but Jonas made me re-discover it. I have the impression that this was the key-moment, the time when Jonas finally relaxed and enjoyed his singing as much as we did.

The first part of the recital would come to an end with "Pourquoi me réveiller". Now, this is Werther!!!! His acute stunned me, I thought I could actually see the sound coming out of his mouth. Spectacular, despite some accuracy problems.


Part Two and more Cavaradossi. A steady, secure, passionate "E lucevan le stelle", with beautiful pianissimi, that was ruined by a) those who clapped right after “mai tanto la vita” b) those who shhhhhsed those who clapped right after “mai tanto la vita”.

Having already heard the Mannheim concert, I was anxiously waiting his Don José. While listening to the Mannheim rendition, I was trying to remember a José Carreras quote I had read some years ago referring to the way the high B at the “Et j’ étais une chose a toi” had to be sung. I don’t know whether my memory fails me but he had said something like “I recorded the high B (singing it) pianissimo because that’s the way it is written and that’s the way it has to be sung. But I know that if I sing it like that at La Scala, I’m gonna get booed”.


Jonas’s high B was a pianississimo that stopped time and cut my breath, even if he “shaked” it for a nano-second. During the whole aria I experienced the feeling I had some months ago at the Marcelo Alvarez recital
("I wanna cry like a baby and I really don’t know why").

I held my tears for my son: Lohengrin was next and his Gralserzählung. That was the second time Jonas was singing "In Fernem Land" live, first being in Mannheim a few days ago.

No words to describe it. I’m just gonna say that I seriously consider being present at Jonas’ debut as Lohengrin, in Munich, in July 2009 (and what about Bayreuth in 2010???!!!)

Athens got the full treat of encores and (the already very tired) Jonas recompensed the frenzied applause with:

a) Il lamento di Federico
b) La donna é mobile
c) Non ti scordar di me
d) Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.

Not bad, huh?

During the whole day I received various e-mails by people who were present and who were equally amazed by the artistry of Jonas Kaufmann and the common factor in each an everyone of them was the word “feeling”.


Jonas Kaufmann is without a doubt a huge artist, who displays a unique instrument, rare, strange, call it whatever you want, but it sure is unique.

The cons of the recital:

a) The Athens State Orchestra who unfortunately, once more did their best to ruin what Jonas was building. If they got booed for a good reason after the Semiramide overture at the Renée Fleming concert in June, a loud boo was the least the audience should give them after their rendition of the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin. I suppose nobody wanted to spoil his evening for these second rate musicians (?).
Kudos though to maestro Michael Güttler who tried to tame this herd.

b) All kind of widows that dared to say “He won’t last more than 3 years”, “His singing is throat, throat, throat” and stuff like that, that I overheard during the night, proving only mere ignorance. Jonas has been singing since… 1993? Morons...

c) The ridiculous translation of the arias in the program and on surtitles during the recital.


Backstage, Jonas looked happy and relaxed. He patiently signed autographs, posed next to fans, tolerated a couple of creepy guys that didn’t leave him in peace till the time he left (And I’m not referring to myself).



Not much of a conversation this time: my inexistant german are limited to yelling "Notung! Notung!". After mumbling something like "Complimenti" demonstrating all the shyness I usually don't have, I "retreated" and left the gurus do the talking.


Did I show you my Jonas badge? A special person gave it to me last night ; )



Read Hariclea's review here.

Next stop: Berlin, January the 19th


User Macbett0 has uploaded "In Fernem Land" from last night.
The quality might not be great but there are more fotos 4 u!

A part of "Pourquoi me réveiller" you can already find at the previous post or by clicking here .

And "La fleur...."



9 comments:

Kenderina said...

Now I am terribly enviousssssss but also very happy that everything went well and you all could enjoy the concert and meet Jonas ;)
I've caught the flu and I'm feeling terrible but sure these photos make me smile ;)

Hariclea said...

Your forgot the couple cuddling in front of us.. never knew the feeling Jonas transmits could have these effects ;-))
And i could soooo shoot myself in the foot for not speaking English, you should have kicked me or something!!!!! I was just saying to Kende earlier that i realised while being there that YOU should have had more time with him :-( Well, a guilty conscience won't help now, but I promise I will make it up to you!!!

And those are some cute pics!!! More tomorrow after i wake up from the dead...

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Could we have more audio please???? tnx

Willym said...

The "In Fernem Land" had me on the verge of tears - and for all the right reasons. Thanks for the, as always thoughtful, posting - you make me so wish I was there. Hmm.. Munich ... Lohengrin... July...

Interesting your comment about the wailing widows - there was one over on another blog making that sort of comment yesterday.

Thanks again for the advise of the Romeo - I've changed by plans and fortunately tickets were available.

mille grazie

Anonymous said...

Thank u for putting more!

Hariclea said...

U know i just realised my flight on Monday is at 7...leaving home at 5,20... Oh nooo... maybe i should get my brain checked!!!!!

And by the way, do you mind the unruly curls and the unshaven face? ;-) His tux was very elegant :-)

And you chose to forget the woman who thought this was the La-donne-e-mobile-singalong ;-).. i could have killed her then and there!!!

Marion said...

For Anonymous
E lucevan le stelle
on www.jkaufmann.info

Adina said...

I still could kill her. She will go into history. It was very close to me I think. Maybe she was with the guy who thought that he should damage my eardrum with his bravo shouting though I liked that much more than her singing.

Papagena said...

Congratulations Parsi!! What a great night, and what a terrific review you wrote. Thanks a lot for the audio, it's a present that all those who couldn't enjoy that night will appreciate so much- you're really sweet ;-)