azcentral, March 1st, 2013
|by Nancy Polston
Opera Gala, Phoenix, 24. Februar 2013
Standing Ovation for Tenor Jonas Kaufmann at the Orpheum
How do I write about someone who has been written about over a thousand
times by the best music critics in the world? I’m not quite sure how to
explain with words the experience I had this past Sunday watching world
famous operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann perform at the Orpheum Theater in
downtown Phoenix with the Phoenix Opera.
The New York Times review in
April 2012 described Kaufmann as, “Performing an impressive range of roles
with a finely chiseled, deftly modulated lyric-dramatic voice capped by a
secure, ringing top. Such distinctive vocal quality would be enough to put
any tenor’s career into orbit.”
After his 2011 performance in LA, the
Los Angeles Times stated, “He has chiseled looks and dramatic presence. His
voice has a baritone’s dark coloring and weight, and he can use it for
poetic effect. He knows that less is more, so he did not rely on extraneous
gestures to punch up his program of lieder by Schumann and Strauss.”
Martin Kettle from The Guardian acclaimed Kaufmann as being, “In a class of
his own, totally involved and giving a masterclass of daringly varied,
sometimes mannered, vocal technique.”
I consider my 75-year-old
mother, Duck Hee O’Donnell, to be the biggest music critic of them all. She
is a cellist and was the featured soloist for concert tours in Southeast
Asia before I was born. She performed for the King of Siam, the President of
Vietnam, the King of Thailand and the President of the Philippines. Even
though she is a cellist, my mom considers the human voice to be the finest
musical instrument. There have only been a handful of vocal greats to pass
my mom’s approval. And, out of all of them she says that Jonas Kaufmann is
one of her favorites.
She explains that having a good voice is not
enough anymore. You have to be able to act as well. She first saw Kaufmann
via a DVD. It was his 2010 performance in Werther. My mom was immediately
drawn into his charisma, range of expression and depth he brought to the
role he played.
Later, she attended the Salzburg Music Festival in
Austria hoping to see Kaufmann perform in person but alas there were no
tickets available. When she found out Kaufmann was coming to Phoenix she
immediately jumped at the opportunity to see him. "Thrilled" with his live
performance is an understatement.
After Kaufmann’s second encore, I
saw my mother sneak like a little kid out of her twelfth row seat to the
front row. His four encore performance included Dein ist mein ganzes Herz by
Lehar, Core 'ngrato, Du bist die Welt für mich by Tauber and É lucevan le
stelle by Puccini.
Then we attended a VIP party at the Palomar Hotel
just a few blocks from the Orpheum. To our surprise, Kaufmann walked in with
his wife mezzo-soprano Margarete Joswig. We were able to talk with Margarete
and she explained that Kaufmann brought the whole family including their 14,
9 and 7 year-old children. They had never been to Phoenix before even though
he has relatives in the city. She told us they would be taking a small
airplane tour of the Grand Canyon the next day.
We were given
Kaufmann’s latest CD, watched him autograph it, and spent a little time
talking with him. Sometimes when you meet someone famous, you put them on
such a high pedestal that it can be a little disappointing. Not so with
Jonas. He was charming and most personable.
As a professional
musician my mom has met many famous performers and she put her seal of
approval on Jonas Kaufmann. She concluded Jonas was different. “He was down
to earth and caring, kind and patient.”
At the post concert
reception, when an elderly person came to the podium where he was signing
autographs, he would get up out of his seat, come down from the podium,
embrace in sincere conversation, take pictures and sign autographs never
rushing anyone. He really sets the bar for kindness and etiquette.
are grateful the Phoenix Opera hosted such an amazing talent and hope that
they will be able to bring Jonas Kaufmann back again soon.