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CD Review

L'Opéra

Sony 88985390762
  • Charles Gounod:
  • Roméo et Juliette, Acte II: "L'amour… Ah! Lève-toi, soleil!":
  • Jules Massenet:Werther, Acte III: "Traduire… Ah! bien souvent…Pourquoi me réveiller, ô souffle du printemps?"Manon, Acte II: "Enfin, Manon, nous voilà seuls ensemble!… En fermant les yeux, je vois là-bas"*Manon, Acte III, Scène 2: "Toi! Vous!… N'est-ce plus ma main que cette main presse?"*Le Cid, Acte III, Scène 3: "Ah! tout est bien fini!… Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père":
  • Ambroise Thomas:
  • Mignon, Acte III, scène 5: "Elle ne croyait pas, dans sa candeur naïve":
  • Georges Bizet:
  • Carmen, Acte II: "Je le veux, Carmen… La fleur que tu m'avais jetée":
  • Les pêcheurs de perles, Acte I: "C'est toi, toi qu'enfin je revois!… Au fond du temple saint"**:
  • Edouard Lalo:
  • Le roi d'Ys, Acte III, Scène 1:"Puisqu'on ne peut fléchir… Vainement, ma bien-aimée":
  • Jacques Offenbach:
  • Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Acte IV: "Ô Dieu, de quelle ivresse":
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer:
  • L'Africaine, Acte IV: "Pays merveilleux!… Ô paradis":
  • Jacques Fromental Halévy:
  • La Juive, Acte IV: "Rachel, quand du Seigneur":
  • Hector Berlioz:La Damnation de Faust, Part III, Scène 1: "Merci, doux crépuscule!"Les Troyens, Acte V, Scène 1: "Inutiles regrets! Je dois quitter Carthage!"
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
* Sonya Yoncheva, soprano
** Ludovic Tézier, baritone
Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Bertrand de Billy
Sony Classical 88985390762 74min
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

For the past decade or so I have followed the career of Jonas Kaufmann pretty closely and can say with confidence I don't think he has has ever had a significant setback on stage or in the recording studio. Everything I've heard from him in the latter venue has been superb with the possible exception of his Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, which was perhaps only just very good. (Note: Kaufmann sang both the tenor and baritone songs in that performance, the first singer ever to do so!) With this new disc of opera selections entitled L'Opera on Sony Classical, he takes on a mixture of French arias and duets. Again, in virtually every number here he is superb, giving us more evidence that he is without doubt one of the greatest tenors ever to appear on the world's stages. I wouldn't argue with anyone who claimed he is the finest tenor before the public today.

To cite just a few examples of his artistry here, try his Werther selection, "Traduire… Ah! bien souvent…", where his passion and utterly creamy tone make you wonder if you've ever heard this music sung any better. By the way, Kaufmann has sung this Massenet role many times on stage and consistently to great acclaim. In the aria from Ambroise Thomas's Mignon, "Elle ne croyait pas, dans sa candeur naïve", Kaufmann sings mostly in softer tones, appropriately so, but conveys so much feeling and sensitivity, imparting a sorrowful and almost hopeless sense to the lovely music.

Kaufmann's duets with Sonya Yoncheva from Massenet's Manon will serve as great highlights for many listeners – they certainly did for me. "In Enfin, Manon, nous voilà seuls ensemble!" Kaufmann and Yoncheva sing beautifully – and subtly, neither trying overwhelm the other. In the ensuing "Toi! Vous!… N'est-ce plus ma main que cette main presse?", the two make perfect foils for each other: initially Yoncheva is demure and enticing, Kaufmann in contrast more aggressive and fiery, but as things progress their approaches reverse somewhat until both explode in passion at the end. What splendid singing!

Baritone Ludovic Tézier sings magnificently in his duet with Kaufmann, "C'est toi, toi qu'enfin je revois!… Au fond du temple saint", from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles. Need I mention that Kaufmann here is also his usual brilliant self? Actually, you can pick any selection on the disc and you simply won't find a misstep anywhere. Credit on the orchestral side of things must go to the marvelous Bavarian State Orchestra who play superbly under the leadership of the Paris-born conductor Bertrand de Billy. At just fifty years of age at this writing, he has managed to build a major reputation on the podium, primarily in opera and particularly in France and Germany. The sound reproduction throughout the disc is excellent. Fine notes and full texts are provided by Sony. I can thus highly recommend this disc to any opera lover and must declare that it is an essential purchase for the many fans of Jonas Kaufmann.

Copyright © 2018, Robert Cummings

Trumpet