Jonas Kaufmann pays homage to a magnificent era of opera that defined musical splendor and elegance, in his new album of 19th-century French opera arias and duets. His selection of music for tenor spans this momentous period, starting with “Rachel, quand du Seigneur” from Halévy’s La Juive (1835), through two of Bizet’s greatest works, “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Carmen (1875) and “Au fond du temple saint” from Les Pêcheurs de perles (1863), by way of Gounod’s “Ah! lève-toi, soleil!” from Roméo et Juliette (1867) and ending with the latest aria “Pourquoi me réveiller” from Massenet’s masterpiece Werther (1892). Plus many more along the way.
Don’t judge this album from the first aria – the Puccini arias are the weakest here. The French repertoire finds Kaufmann on excellent form. The most encouraging thing about him is his musical intelligence – a genuine soft high note to crown his Carmen Flower Song – and elsewhere he strives to serve the music. The voice can’t quite do all he asks yet, but it’s full of brooding, Vinay-like darkness.
With Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jonas Kaufmann bringing rare erotic intensity to the drama of Carmen and Don Jose, this Royal Opera production is a darkly passionate reading of one of the world's favourite operas. Under the baton of Music Director Antonio Pappano, Bizet's irresistible score drives the tragedy forward - powering a landmark staging of a musical masterpiece.
This Covent Garden production of Bizet’s Carmen, makes a vivid musical and dramatic impression. Director Francesca Zambello creates a properly Spanish atmosphere, filling the stage with a profusion of detailed characters. In Act One’s town square each of the many soldiers, strollers, cigarette factory girls, and children are individuals, so there’s a bustle of continuous, realistic activity. That attention to detail carries over to the rest of the opera, involving viewers in the action. Tanya McCallin’s sets are a perfect foil for the direction: simple, movable panels that serve as lightly sketched backdrops for the town square, a tavern, the smugglers’ mountain hideaway, and the final scene in front of the bull ring. But what makes this Carmen special is the singing and acting of the principals… –Dan Davis