Operagasm Exclusive: Jonas Kaufmann in Vail
by Christie Connolley
Few things can lure me from beneath the warmth of my electric blanket during sub-zero temperatures up into the mountains amid snowy weather. Luckily, Jonas Kaufmann has that kind of hold on me. The small, freezing mountain hamlet of Vail was the setting for a gala fundraiser featuring the one and only Jonas Kaufmann this past weekend. Kaufmann confessed to having “caught the virus of love” for Colorado’s spectacular mountainous region. He also caught a virus of another kind and despite a nasty cold, he soldiered on with his scheduled appearance.
Let me start by saying it was as if JK’s people received and fulfilled my Jonas Kaufmann order form in advance of the recital. You know…. how some restaurants let you personalize your salad or pasta with a checklist of options on a little pad of paper and before you know it your custom ordered German beefcake…. er…. I mean your custom ordered pesto farfalle pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts is served. So I ordered JK with wild, tousled locks untamed, with a five o’clock shadow and in an Armani tux. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. He wore a dark suit with a gunmetal silver tie… which actually reminded me of the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey and that naughty realization made me warm up to the suit. (PS – I don’t actually read that drivel…)
The program started with German lieder and closed with selections from Tenor’s Greatest Hits! Accompanied by Carrie-Ann Matheson he opened with Schumann’s Dichterliebe. Kaufmann had an especially beautiful treatment of the cycle employing various vocal colors to portray the mood and text throughout, Hor ‘ich das Liedchen klingen and Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen were especially exquisite.
There was a little confusion after J-Kauf exited the stage. The program indicated it was time for an Interval, which everyone took to mean intermission since the house lights came back on. Confusion ensued and the ushers urged everyone to return to their seats. J-Kauf returned to the stage while the house lights were still up and people were still standing in confusion trying to adjust their hearing aids so they could understand what was going on. J-Kauf took it all in stride and graciously told everyone to take their time returning to their seats and he talked a little about Strauss before embarking on a set of songs by the composer, Heimlich Aufforderung, Ich trage meine Minne, Morgen and Cacilie. The final two songs of which were stunningly beautiful.
At this point in the evening we moved into the power ballad part of the program – JK kicked up the volume and intensity with several arias. Pochielli’s Cielo e mar, Massenet’s Pourquoi me reveiller (can I love this man anymore at this point?), two selections from Puccini’s Tosca, and Mascagni’s Addio a la madre. This is when the elderly Italian couple seated next to me became really excited. The gentleman started to conduct, I use that term loosely, gesticulating his arms in the air would be more accurate and no matter how many times his wife put his hands back in his lap, they sprang right back up as if JK was counting on him. Unfortunately, it seemed that the demanding program and the cold were taking its toll and there was some exhaustion and pushing, most evident in the Tosca.
After wild applause J-Kauf relented and offered an encore before he had to dash out to catch a plane
into my heart to NYC for the Met’s rehearsals for Parsifal the following morning. Sigh…..