Beethoven: Fidelio
1 - The Telegraph: Beethoven: Fidelio, CD review
2 - Prestoclassical: Beethoven’s Fidelio from Abbado and Kaufmann
3 - The Times: Nina Stemme/ Jonas Kaufmann: Fidelio
4 - The Independent: Claudio Abbado, Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Beethoven: Fidelio (Decca)
5 - BBC Radio 3: Fidelio (Audio)
6 - Opéra Magazine: Un Fidelio hors normes
7 - Classique News: Fidelio éruptif
8 - BayAreaReporter: Faith in marriage act
9 - The Guardian: Beethoven: Fidelio – review
10 - Financial Times: Fidelio
11 - The Classical Review: BEETHOVEN Fidelio
12 - Sydsvenska Dagbladet: En ”Fidelio” du inte vill vara utan
13 - The Independent: Beethoven, Fidelio Abbado / Stemme / Kaufmann / LFO (Decca)
14 - Le temps: «Fidelio» à la lueur du Siècle des Lumières
15 - Basler Zeitung: Beethoven ohne Fett
16 - rbb kulturradio: Beethoven: Fidelio u.a. mit Jonas Kaufmann
17 - Classics Today/International Record Review: Fidelio
18 - Aachener Zeitung: Jonas Kaufmann: «Beethoven: Fidelio»
19 - Associated Press: Abbado leads stirring 'Fidelio'
20 - Associated Press: Abbado dirige un "Fidelio" conmovedor
21 - Gramophone: Beethoven - Fidelio
22 - Forumopera: Fidelio en porcelaine
23 - La Scena Musicale: CDs if the week - Beethoven: Fidelio
24 - BBC Review: Elements combine effectively to highlight what a baffling composer Beethoven could be.
25 - La Libre: Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio, Claudio Abbado
26 - San Francisco Classical Voice: A Thrilling, Impassioned, and Ultimately Transcendent Fidelio
27 - Die Welt: Fidelio: Eine Enttäuschung auf höchstem Niveau
28 - Opernglas: Fidelio
29 - Cleveland, Plain Dealer: Beethoven: Fidelio
30 - Musicweb International: Recording of the Month - Beethoven: Fidelio
31 - Diapason: Fidelio
32 - Telerama: Une célébration de l’amour conjugal, portée à l’incandescence par Claudio Abbado
33 - Sound+Vision: Beethoven’s “Fidelio
34 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Beethoven 'Fidelio' Conducted by Claudio Abbado (Decca)
35 - Houston public radio: Music Library Reviews: Beethoven
36 -, Nöje&kultur: Odödlig musik med skärpa och lätthet
37 - Верность мировой гармонии
38 - Classica: Beethoven, Fidelio
39 - BBC Music Magazine: Fidelio
40 - Limelight Magazine: Beethoven: Fidelio
41 - New York Times: Old and New, a Tale of Heroes and Villains
42 - Altamusica: L’étincelle Abbado
43 - El Mercurio: “FIDELIO” (DECCA) según Jonas Kaufmann
44 - Falter: Wo die Oper spielt: im trauten Heim natürlich
45 - Opera News: BEETHOVEN: Fidelio
46 - Opera Britannia: Beethoven: Fidelio (Decca)
47 - Classic Voice: Fidelio
48 - La Croix: Un somptueux "Fidelio" par Claudio Abbado
49 - FAZ: Wahrheit, Freiheit, nichts weniger
50- El Pais: Un Claudio Abbado memorable para la única ópera de Beethoven
52 - Musica: Fidelio *****
53 - Giornale della Musica: Abbado e l'eleganza leggera di Fidelio
54 - Opernwelt: Aus dem Geist der Musik
55 - L'opera, Italien: Fidelio
56 - Musik & Theater: Humane Anteilnahme

1 - Abbado likes to work with artists he knows well, and in the realms of singers, as with orchestral players, he chooses from the higher echelons. Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan might not appear until Act Two, but it is worth the wait for his anguished crescendo on “Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!”.
Kaufmann sings gloriously, and with lyrical lustre as gleams of hope lighten his crepuscular world in “Euch werde Lohn”.

- The ensemble-singing has the balance and synthesis which characterise the very best performances of Beethoven’s chamber-music, yet this Fidelio is dominated by the last character we meet, sung here by the mesmerising Jonas Kaufmann. His first note alone is worth the price of the set: his entry is virtually imperceptible, but the prisoner’s soft moan of ‘Gott!’ builds to a searing cry of anguish which had my hair standing on end (and, no doubt, my neighbours poised to bang on the wall!). Despite the innate virility and power of the voice, he conveys the starving prisoner’s physical weakness as well as his nobility and strength of mind – and at the end of a gruelling evening still fields clarion tone in the brief solos praising his ‘holdes Weib’ in the final scene.
The comparatively dark voices of the two protagonists won’t perhaps be to all tastes but, for me, are one of the selling-points of this recording – it goes without saying that both are in almost total technical command of these fiercely demanding roles, but there’s a palpable sense of effort which only reinforces the heroism of the characters.

3 - Jonas Kaufmann’s first note alone is a good reason to buy this new recording of Beethoven’s stirring opera. The note arrives early in Act II, when the hero Florestan, a political prisoner, is introduced chained in his underground dungeon. “Gott!” the wonder German tenor sings, unaccompanied, in a remarkably piercing and forceful crescendo, the musical equivalent of a widening chink of light suddenly thrown into the prisoner’s dank gloom. The effect makes your jaw drop, your pulse pause, your hairs stand on end.

4 - Claudio Abbado's presentation is expertly played and well-sung by the principals, though Jonas Kaufmann's imperious entry as the imprisoned Florestan at the start of Act Two does rather render the preceding act an extended hour-plus preamble.

6 - On peut évidemment s'extasier, par exemple, sur le cri liminaire « Gott !» de l'air de Florestan, émis par Jonas Kaufmann selon un crescendo prodigieux. Mais autant cet effet précis nous avait paru un peu artificiel sur scène, reproduit récemment par le même chanteur avec un autre chef, autant il acquiert ici une dimension bouleversante, après une introduction où chaque timbre de l'orchestre semble creusé de la même façon, de l'intérieur, jusqu'à ce qu'il n'en reste qu'une enveloppe, simple vibration d'une sensibilité exacerbée.

7 - En outre, Jonas Kaufmann marque naturellement le rôle et place d'emblée le disque au sein des meilleurs enregistrements discographiques. La tenue du souffle, la musicalité souveraine, battant le fer, volcanique et aussi murmurée, - ce début au II sur "Gott", en pur mezzavoce, venu d'outre tombe à la façon d'un Chateaubriand...- que tout cela est magnifiquement incarné: investi jusqu'au mot près, racé, précis... Kaufmann a l'âpreté et la félinité, ce sang nourri au désespoir et à la détermination des grands révoltés révolutionnaires... Le ténor allemand atteint une même évidence vocale et stylistique depuis son Siegmund anthologique, accompagné par le même Abbado (air enregistré chez Deutsche Grammophon)

8 - The pitch of ecstasy tenor Jonas Kaufmann achieves in that music – after opening his big aria with a swell on the word "Gott" that goes from the inaudible to full howl – is in an instant (or an eternity, if you prefer) balanced by the extraordinary breadth and slowness of the orchestral chords at the end of the passage. It's dizzying, elemental and so deft you almost miss it.
So don't.

9 - An exceptional Florestan – arguably the finest since Jon Vickers's – from Jonas Kaufmann wonderfully conveys his moral greatness as well as the extremity of his suffering.

10 - Interest for opera fans lies primarily in Jonas Kaufmann’s Florestan: his aria, beginning on a thread of sound, is as much a meditation as a cry from the depths.

11 - There are no significant weaknesses among the soloists. Nina Stemme is an ardently committed Leonore, rising to the challenges of her horn-led scene in Act 1 (‘Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?’) with palpable resolve, while a hint of strain in Jonas Kaufmann’s Florestan is put to productive use in the fraught emotions which define his comparable aria at the beginning of Act 2 with its no less spellbinding oboe obbligato, though neither singer sounds wholly at ease during their ecstatic duet ‘O namenlose Freude!’.

12 - Jonas Kaufmann är en Florestan i Jon Vickers anda. En tenor som brinner och inte gnetar med resurserna. Ur andra aktens ödesmättade förspel växer hans röst – långsamt, obevekligt – från ett knappt hörbart kvidande till ett förtvivlat skri.

13 - The singing is heroic, both from Nina Stemme as Leonore/Fidelio and Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan.

14 - Jonas Kaufmann, le Florestan de ces dernières années, y apporte sa couleur très personnelle. Il y a ce timbre ténébreux, une sensualité fébrile et magnifique, face à la Léonore de Nina Stemme.

15 - ...fällt auf die Sänger ein helles Licht - allen voran auf Rachel Harnisch als Marzelline, auf Nina Stemmes Leonore und den packenden Florestan von Jonas Kaufmann.

16 - Und Jonas Kaufmann? Er klingt fast so metallisch, auch etwas verschattet, als wär’s Jon Vickers (ein berühmter Wagner-Recke). Leicht versteift, merkt man indes doch eine Virilität, eine Jugend und ein Ungestüm heraus, die in dieser Rolle nur selten anzutreffen ist. Insofern ein bedeutendes, geglücktes Rollenportrait innerhalb einer durchaus gelungenen Gesamtaufnahme. In den dramatischen Höhepunkten lässt sie die Mühe erkennen, welche die Freiheit macht. Irgendwie packt einen der Geist der Sache aber doch.

17 - Jonas Kaufmann, everyone's tenor-love of the moment, can do no wrong, and in fact he does no wrong here, articulating his despair as well as his hope and desperation with great sincerity, solid tone, and intelligence. And it's a pleasure to hear the last couple of minutes of his aria so flawlessly, almost effortlessly sung--but I suspect that Beethoven wrote it that way in order for it not to sound easy: use Jon Vickers as your guide. It's hard to fault a singer for sounding too secure, but that's just about what we get here. Kaufmann does not take a wrong step throughout the entire act, delivering his part of "O namenlöse Freude" with urgency and round tone. Both he and Stemme sound properly relieved, but anyone recalling the near-hysterical outburst of Ludwig and Vickers under Klemperer will realize that something is missing here.

18 - Fürs Gänsehaut-Gefühl – für das man allerdings den gesamten ersten Akt tenorlos absitzen muss – reicht eigentlich der erste Ton der gefürchteten Tenor-Partie, jenes aus dem Nichts ins herzzerreißende Forte crescendierte hohe G auf «Gott», mit dem Florestan sein Schicksal als Eingekerkerter beklagt. Kaufmann strahlt und dräut, erdig gegründet und metallen durchflammt, dass es einen schaudert.
Später darf man wunderbare Legatokultur, stimmliche Brillanz und ins Extrem getriebenen Ausdruck bewundern und beruhigt bemerken, dass man auch Kaufmann anhört, dass dieser Florestan schwer zu singen ist.

19 - With more than a dozen commercial recordings of Beethoven's only opera already available, why buy this new one? The reasons begin with Jonas Kaufmann.
The German tenor brings to the role of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan the same qualities that have made him an international superstar — a keen understanding of the text joined to a powerful, exceptionally beautiful voice that is capable of the subtlest dynamic shadings. His is a carefully thought-out interpretation that still sounds fresh and spontaneous. It's a thrilling performance, worthy of comparison with such great Florestans of the recent past as Jon Vickers and James King.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: The beginning of Act 2 introduces Florestan with an aria that begins, "Gott! Welch dunkel hier!" ("God, what darkness here!") Many tenors attack the opening word, sung on the note G natural, full-out like a stab of pain. But Kaufmann begins it in a whisper so low your first impulse may be to check your volume control. Then, in one sustained breath lasting 11 seconds, he gradually increases the volume until the word becomes a fortissimo cry of anguish. It's a daring and stunning effect.

21 - I could have done without Jonas Kaufmann’s 12-second crescendo on Florestan’s annunciatory “Gott!” – René Kollo did something similar for Bernstein (DG, 10/78R) – more vocal stunt than human utterance and offering a foretaste of vocal discolorations to come. But that, in the end, is a trifle.

22 - Tous nos espoirs reposent dès lors sur Jonas Kaufmann. Son « Gott, welch ein Dunkel hier », avec ce sforzando admirablement négocié sur « Gott » (alla Rosvaenge) est magnétique et nous fait dresser les cheveux sur la tête. Où Stemme vocifère son duo, lui y met une chair sanguine, un élan, incomparables dans la discographie tout entière.... au moins aurons-nous désormais le Florestan intégral de Kaufmann dans nos discothèques.

23 - Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, with Claudio Abbado conducting – it reads like a throwback to the glory days of opera recording, and in many ways it is, taken from live Lucerne Festival performances with thrilling sound....Kaufmann, though, means buy it now.

24 - Jonas Kaufmann also impresses, most of all in his lachrymose opening to the second act. His swelling crescendo that begins Gott! Welt Dunkel hier is impeccably delivered and surprisingly hammy, but it works perfectly.

25 - En 2010, il reprenait l’ouvrage au festival de Lucerne avec l’orchestre du festival et des solistes prestigieux : Jonas Kaufmann en Florestan, Nina Stemme en Léonore mais aussi Rachel Harnisch, Falk Struckmann ou Peter Mattei.

26 - Kaufmann uses every tone at his disposal to express passion, pain, and ultimate liberation. His “Gott! Welch Dunkel hier! ... In des Lebens Frühlingstagen” (God! What darkness here! ... In the springtime of my life) begins with a flawless swell from pianissimo to double forte. As impressive as that may be, what elevates it from superb technique to high art is the way Kaufmann transitions from the husky, covered tones of an enslaved, starving prisoner to the gleaming sound of someone crying for his love, conveying the emotion of the moment. His spoken dialogue is equally convincing.

27 - Aber Kaufmann verliert bei der Pflege seiner stetig auffälligeren Manierismen ein schlüssiges Porträt aus dem Blick.

28 - Glücklicherweise verfügte Abbado bei dieser in den Dialogen stark verknappten, halbszenischen Aufführung nicht nur über ein exzellentes Orchester, sondern auch über ein Sängerensemble, das bis auf eine Ausnahme auf einem ebenso hohen Niveau agierte....In Jonas Kaufmann steht ihr der wohl derzeit weltbeste Florestan zur Seite. Mit fast schon unheimlicher Mühelosigkeit erklimmt er den Aufstieg ins „himmlische Reich", begeistert aber mehr noch durch die schier unbegrenzte Palette an Farben und Schattierungen, mit der er das Leid des Gefangenen auszudrücken versteht.

29 - This account of Beethoven's paean to loyalty and freedom from the 2010 Lucerne Festival comes blazingly to life when Jonas Kaufmann is pouring searing intensity into the role of Florestan...

30 - The cast, which hasn’t a weak link, is dominated by two exciting singers. The Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, whose recording credits include Isolde in EMI’s Tristan (review) is a wonderful Leonore while the German tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, who impresses me hugely every time I hear him, excels as Florestan We have to wait until Act II to hear Kaufmann but when we do hear him, what an impact he makes! At the very start of ‘Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!’ he starts the word ‘Gott!’ almost inaudibly and expands the sound to forte through a long and meticulously controlled crescendo. Without access to a score I can’t say if this is authentic; it’s a very different approach to the loud cry with which Jon Vickers (for Klemperer) utters the word but Kaufmann’s approach is just as effective – arguably more so – as an anguished cry of despair. It’s an arresting moment. He goes on to give a formidable account of the aria ‘In des Lebens Frühlingstagen’, deploying a flawless technique and delivering an emotionally charged reading. Just before ‘Und spür’ ich nicht linde, sanft säuseinde Luft?’ the stage direction translates in the booklet as “with a calm rapture, which nevertheless verges on madness”. To my ears, Kaufmann follows this dictum splendidly in the passage that follows.

31 - Face à cette déesse vivante, Jonas Kaufmann fait son entrée avec un « Gott » venu du tréfonds de l'âme, saisissant gémissement enflé jusqu'à l'imploration ; le reste n'est que muscles et pleurs rentrés, maîtrise absolue, justesse de chaque instant. N'ayons pas peur des comparaisons : le plus grand Florestan depuis James King et Jon Vickers.

32 - Véritable figure christique, le Florestan de Jonas Kaufmann – voix à la fois épuisée et glorieuse, enténébrée et solaire – supplante tous ses devanciers discographiques, même les plus célèbres – le Canadien Jon Vickers sous la direction d’Otto Klemperer ou d’Herbert von Karajan, l’Allemand Wolfgang Windgassen, dirigé par Wilhelm Furtwängler. Plutôt qu’une couronne de martyr, ce Fidelio salvateur mérite une auréole de saint. De saint laïc et démocrate.

33 - In Jonas Kaufmann, we have found Vickers’s modern-day counterpart in the fiendishly demanding tenor role of Florestan. Kaufmann has nearly as thrilling intensity and even more beautiful tone, such that this Fidelio reaches true greatness only upon his arrival in Act II. Abbado’s conducting, effective and exciting until this point, gains gravitas in the introduction and aria “Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!”

34 - She is matched by the handsome-sounding Florestan of supertenor Jonas Kaufmann, whose spectacular crescendo from a wisp of sound to a fortissimo on his opening word of invocation (Gott!") makes it hard to believe ones ears. His aria that follows is heartbreaking, and in the grueling hallucinatory "freedom" section, right on the mark with stamina and ring.

35 - Tenor Jonas Kaufmann's almost instrumental-sounding crescendo on the word "Gott!" is at first unsettling, but it's highly effective. Kaufmann admirably succeeds in bringing out both the pathetic and the heroic characteristics of the political prisoner Florestan.

36 - Som huvudparet, Leonora och Florestan, räcker Nina Stemme och Jonas Kaufmann långt, även om konkurrensen rent historiskt är mördande.

38 - et Jonas Kaufmann s'impose comme une étoile absolue, dont le Gott initial, prodigieux crescendo, est pure magie, et dont la présence sombre, mâle et vaillante est ce qu'on a entendu de plus beau en Florestan depuis James King pour mener l'ensemble final à une beauté sidérante

39 - Tenor Jonas Kaufmann is a commanding Florestan. His opening phrase as he lies in the depths of the dungeons is spine-tingling.

40 - Few tenors are able to convey the conflicting suffering, near-dementia and inextinguishable hope in Florestan’s character, but Jonas Kaufmann produces a sound that is both heroic and nuanced.

41 - Mr. Kaufmann is a terrific Florestan, singing with burnished sound, virile power and anguished emotional intensity, as well as poignant pianissimo phrases, a Kaufmann trademark. It is noteworthy that Mr. Kaufmann’s account of Florestan has come out around the same time as the live Met version with Mr. Vickers. Mr. Kaufmann has often been compared to Mr. Vickers, and the similarity comes through strongly in these recordings. As anyone who has heard Mr. Kaufmann in person knows, and as his recent Siegmund in Wagner’s “Walküre” at the Met especially showed, he has a big, healthy voice with robust top notes. He does not have the heroic-size voice of Mr. Vickers. What tenor today does? But the dark colorings and expressive inflections of their sounds are strikingly close. Both artists also put a premium on enunciating the German words with vivid declamation. I doubt that Mr. Kaufmann is trying to emulate Mr. Vickers, which would be foolish. But there it is.

42 - Jonas Kaufmann est un Florestan incomparable d’élan, de passion, de force dramatique, de qualité vocale.

43 - Kaufmann es un artista fuera de lo común, capaz de transitar por una partitura imposible, cambiante, con un fraseo que no decae jamás, luciendo un sentido casi religioso del legato y desplegando una autoridad masculina apabullante.
Simplemente soberbio, como si él mismo fuera el “Gott” al que clama.

44 - Unter Claudio Abbado klingt das Werk noch eindringlicher, exzellent ist auch die Rollenbesetzung: Nina Stemme als Leonore steht mit Jonas Kaufmann der zurzeit wohl beste Florestan zur Seite.

45 - Likewise, Jonas Kaufmann's Florestan is beautifully sung, and when the two finally join forces for "O namenlose Freude!" the result is suitably Mozartean, not a prototype for Wagner's Siegfried. Kaufmann has enough mastery of his difficult aria to allow us to think about the glorious music and the beauty of the words, and he makes a splendid contribution to the finale, revived rather than exhausted.

46 - The cast is exceptionally fine, especially the Florestan of Jonas Kaufmann, who makes the most stunning vocal appearance with his utterance of ‘Gott!’, which grows from a whisper to a spine-tingling fortissimo. His following aria is superbly sung, Kaufmann’s heroic tenor reminding one of Jon Vickers’ portrayal, although Kaufmann could almost be accused of singing it too perfectly for a prisoner who’s been incarcerated for two years. As the leading Cavaradossi and Don José of today, Kaufmann must be fairly used to singing in chains by now!

49 - Jonas Kaufmann gelingt, was René Kollo unter Bernstein misslang. Statt des gewohnten Aufschreis auf dem "G" über dem System entwickelt Kaufmann den Ton aus einem Flüstern, fast ist es ein Winseln. Wie imponierend dies auch sein mag, so wirkt es (auf mich) nicht wie jener Schrei, in dem einst Jon Vickers Angst und Schmerz und Verzweiflung bündelte, sondern wie ein Effekt - auch durch die Länge von zwölf Sekunden. Der Phrase "doch gerecht ist Gottes Wille" verleiht Kaufmann größten Nachdruck durch eine Appoggiatur auf der ersten Silbe von "Wille". Anrührend das inwendige Singen zu Beginn der Arie, imponierend deren Schlussteil, in dem die durchaus spürbare Anstrengung die Überwindung eines expressiven Widerstandes ist. Was die Ausdrucksintensität angeht, kommt Kaufmann dem Kanadier Vickers näher als jeder andere Tenor, auch, was die Klangkontraste von Brust- und Kopfstimme angeht.

55 - Kaufmann è uno dei migliori Florestan dell'intera discografia del Fidelio, come prova l'Aria del Il atto, ma anche i preziosi interventi del Finale.

56 - Jonas Kaufmann vermag es, diese subtil gezeichneten, voller innerer Spannung vibrierenden Linien mitzugehen. Er ist kein Florestan der brachialen revolutionären Auflehnung, vielmehr ein Gebrochener, der noch einmal seine letzten inneren Kräfte zu sammeln sucht.
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