In this Verdi Bicentennial year, we are the beneficiaries of an abundance of recorded riches. Among them is Jonas Kaufmann’s Verdi recital disc. He sings 12 (13 on the “deluxe edition” disc) of the Maestro’s tenor arias, both familiar (“La donna e mobile” from Rigoletto) and less familiar (“Destatevi, o pietre. . . Giuri ognun questo canuto” from I masnadieri). All are sung by Kaufmann, who is in sumptuous voice, with consummate technical skill. The baritonal quality of his voice often belies the delicacy of his delivery. The German tenor proves himself a master of Italian style, but without most of the vocal and emotional excess that often typifies less skillful tenors in this repertoire.
Where to begin? Rarely is the entrance aria of Radamès from Aida, “Se quel guerrier io fossi! . . .Celeste Aida,” sung with the concluding diminuendo as it was written by Verdi, much less with perfect messa di voce. On this disc, Kaufmann’s performance rivals Corelli’s legendary recording of the aria. If Kaufmann can manage the same feat on stage, he will bring down the house. Manrico’s great aria, “Ah! si, ben mio. . . Di quella pira” from Il trovatore, is introduced with such delicacy that the thrilling cabaletto sounds like a hurricane is being released. The concluding top “C” is held long enough to bring any opera audience to its feet.
Among the amazing accomplishments that Kaufmann brings to Verdi is the contrast between the rich, burnished quality of his voice and the control and lyricism of his delivery. At times it is possible to imagine that he is a “pushed” baritone, until he unleashes the high notes. Extraordinary singing is on display throughout this disc. The two arias from Otello, “Dio! mi potevi scagliar” and “Niun mi tema” make any Verdi lover long for the day when Kaufmann takes up this great role on stage. This writer had the privilege and pleasure of seeing both Vickers and Domingo sing the role on stage, and Kaufmann shows every promise of being the next in that noble line of interpreters of Verdi’s greatest tenor role. When and if Kaufmann sings Otello, I hope to be in the audience, wherever that may be.
While the conducting of Pier Giorgio Morandi is perfectly acceptable, the playing of the Orchestra dell’Opera di Parma is on the whole lackluster. But what singing!
– WTJU Opera
Kaufmann Sings Verdi
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Orchestra dell’Opera di Parma; Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor