The Guardian, 22 April 2013
Martin Kettle
Konzert, Royal Festival Hall, London, 21. April 2013
Jonas Kaufmann – review
Royal Festival Hall, London
Jonas Kaufmann is everybody's darling in opera's dramatic tenor stakes. But this recital of Verdi and Wagner, a splendid evening in many ways, was also a reminder of the limitations of the operatic concert form, and of the fact that the German singer is still an exciting work in progress, both in terms of repertoire and vocal development.

Concerts of operatic extracts labour under two constraints. The singer's need to pace his or her evening requires orchestral fillers, which break the tension, and were played none too alluringly on this occasion by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jochen Rieder. Meanwhile, the constant hopping from one opera to another means characterisation and dramatic context take a back seat to purely vocal arts.

But what vocal arts they are. Kaufmann began with Verdi, plunging straight into Rodolfo's dramatic recitative and aria from act two of Luisa Miller. It was a bold start, showcasing not just the Italianate lyric ring he commands so naturally, but more particularly his unmatched darker lower registers and the distinctive half-voice that few can rival. Arias from Simon Boccanegra and act one of the Don Carlo (in which Kaufmann is about to appear at Covent Garden) were less arrestingly done, but there was a powerful return to dramatic form in Alvaro's third-act scene from La Forza del Destino, another new role which Kaufmann will undertake this year in Munich.

Then came Wagner, a mixed bag of what used to be called bleeding chunks, with Kaufmann giving a stirring, well projected Siegmund from Die Walküre and a tantalising glimpse of his Walther from Die Meistersinger. Parsifal's great outburst of remorse and understanding after Kundry's kiss was unquestionably the highlight, grippingly articulated and ideal for his voice's current stage of development. Generous encores included two of Wagner's Wesendonck songs, rarely sung by tenors these days, but a reminder of how well Kaufmann can scale down as well as up.

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