Jonas Kaufmann Expresses Concern About the Future of Opera

By Francisco Salazar

Jonas Kaufmann has expressed concern for the future of the opera world.

The tenor, who is one of the biggest box office draws in the world, told the Age in an interview while performing “Lohengrin” at Opera Australia, “the pandemic has been an ‘existential’ crisis” for opera.”

He added, “even the biggest houses, the strongest, the Vienna State Opera, Munich State Opera, Berlin, you name it. They all struggle in selling tickets and they play productions in front of a half-empty hall. And that cannot go on for a very long time.”

Kaufmann however, did note that he was privileged and said, “I was in an exceptional position, first of all because I did make a hell of a lot of money in this business, much more than 99 percent of the people in the business. And second, as soon as there was an opportunity, a possibility, they would always try to get the ‘dirty dozen’ from the top, to make it as loud as possible, when there was something going on. So I got plenty of business offers after four, five months into the pandemic.”

He added, “We have to do something. In the past, the golden times before the pandemic, we didn’t pay attention to entertain people. It was more [about aiming] to be as outstanding, as extravagant, as on-the-edge as possible within this art form. And I said back then, and I say it now again, I think it’s necessary that there has to be an understanding that we do it for the people. It is necessary that you come up with a package where everyone feels pleased and entertained.”

Kaufmann is in the middle of performances in Opera Australia and is set to return to the Royal Opera House for performances of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci.” He is also set to go on tour throughout the summer.