On July 19, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann joined the cast of “Tosca” at the Teatro Real de Madrid for two performances. It was the first time since 1999 that he was performing an opera in Madrid so there was great anticipation.
Kaufmann given two solo concerts in past seasons but hadn’t sung an opera. The tenor recalled that 1999 experience when he joined the cast of “La Clemenza di Tito” on very short notice replacing the tenor who was ill. At that time Kaufmann was not the opera superstar that he is now and was just a young tenor who was a member of the Zurich Opera Company where he performed regularly.
During his return to theater on July 19 Kaufmann delighted audiences with an encore and noted in a press conference that he was aware that Radvanovsky was giving encores in most of her performances and he felt there was pressure and great expectation. However, he noted that there as not premeditation on his part about the Bis. “I heard the outburst after Sondra’s ‘Vissi d’arte’ and immediately knew she was going to sing it again. I had no premeditated intention of giving a “bis” of my aria, something that has happened to me only a few times during my career. There are two factors that need to be there for an encore to happen: The audience has to ask for it with insistency and I have to feel my voice in perfect shape to be able to sing the aria again, as good as the first time at least, if not better. Those two factors happened yesterday and I felt overwhelmed and had a very warm reception.”
However the tenor said that he was not sure if he would do the Bis again because of the two factors he noted. However, he did not rule it out.
The anticipation was running high before Kaufmann’s return to Madrid especially after the tenor had sung his first Tristan in “Tristan und Isolde” and audiences wondered how the tenor would fair after Wagner’s opera. But Kaufmann admitted that it was all about good technique and knowing how to sing the repertoire.
“Firstly, Cavaradossi is a role that I’ve sang many times and know well, therefore I know where to pace myself. And secondly, and the most important reason: I have proven, to the audience and to myself, that you can sing Tristan with technique and not hurting your voice,” said Kaufmann. “It’s true, Tristan it is very long and has a hard tesitura, but as long as you sing with your voice and keep a good technique it works. I sang my first Cavaradossi yesterday seven days after my last Tristan and my voice was fresh and in good shape.”
Now that he had tested the waters with “Tristan und Isolde,” Kaufmann notes that he will distance performances if he sings a run of the role and he will not sing the opera every season. He also noted he will not change the repertoire he sings.
Instead he will continue to balance his performances as he has done throughout the past years and he will also balance his professional and personal life. “I want to spend as much time as I can with my children, and this is one of the reasons for me to give more concerts and not as many opera performances as before. A concert takes about two or three days, one rehearsal and the day of the show, while a premiere opera production might take four to seven rehearsals weeks. That’s why I barely sing in the United States anymore, because it takes too much time for me away from home.”
He did note that he will continue to sing “Tosca” and “Otello” and that his next role will be Calaf in “Turandot.”
“Next year ‘Turandot’ will be recorded with Sondra and me debuting the roles and (Antonio) Pappano conducting. I am grateful to the great initiative of this conductor. He is making possible the recording of full operas, in a market where nowadays that barely happens. And this ‘Turandot’ will be my third full recording with him after ‘Aida’ and ‘Otello’.”
Following his second and last performance at the Teatro Real on July 22, Kaufmann does not have any performances at the Teatro Real scheduled next season. But he is ready to return if he finds a gap in his busy schedule. “We are in conversations with Teatro Real for future engagements. I felt very honored with yesterday’s audience reaction, and I will certainly come back, I just don’t know when right now.”