San Francisco Classical Voice, August 20, 2002
By Janos Gereben
Edinburgh Festival, August 2002: Die schöne Müllerin
Kaufmann: an Exciting Voice from Munich
Voice Sources: Head/Chest, Brain/Heart
EDINBURGH - Of the three noteworthy recitals I heard Saturday, two tenors (!) used the gray matter above the oral cavity excellently well, and one mezzo didn't. Jonas Kaufmann is an exciting discovery, Ian Bostridge sings more admirably than ever, but Michelle DeYoung now needs to be reclassified from homecoming queen to a TV anchor on a small local station. .....

......No encores, alas, for Kaufmann's recital. It is part of the festival's "radical" new series of late-night concerts in Usher Hall. Starting at 10:30, programmed strictly for an hour, and using a large donation from the Royal Bank to set all ticket prices at 5 pounds, it's a wonderful series, except for its unimaginative name ("Classical Music Every Night for 5 Pounds"), and it brings hundreds of new listeners to great classical music.

Kaufmann, a 33-year-old from Munich, with pop-star looks, hair to rival DeYoung, performed Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, a song cycle that fits the hour-long format exactly. Accompanied by Viennese-born, Munich-resident Helmut Deutsch (the piano cradling and uplifting the voice), Kaufmann exhibited focused, warm intelligence, passion appropriate to the songs, and a very interesting voice. Or voices. Three of them.

There is a velvety lyric tenor on top, a hint of steel beneath, and somewhere in-between or on the side, a high baritone. Normally, when you hear a singer with "voices," it can drive you up the wall. Kaufmann has successfully integrated them and what is obvious is a beautiful lyric voice, used superbly, and then some of the other stuff if you bother to analyze it.

Perhaps the only reason I paid much attention to the exact nature of the voice was a startling item in the bio note. Along with Tamino, the Berlioz Faust, Barber of Seville, etc., it said there, in print: "Otello in Chicago." Between that note and my ears, I trust the latter more and I'd suppose the writer must have meant "in Otello," probably Cassio. Over the weekend, correspondents from Chicago confirmed that Cassio it was, an excellent one.

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