Biography

Throughout his career, Munich-born tenor Jonas Kaufmann has allowed his natural curiosity to lead him through an astonishingly broad and deep range of repertoire, from bel canto to Verdi and Puccini heroes to Wagner. Whether singing Maurizio in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Cavaradossi, Alfredo, Werther or Don Carlos, or an ever increasing number of Wagner’s heroic roles, Kaufmann’s keen and questing mind and explorer’s spirit have led him to the world’s greatest opera houses and concert stages. Along the way, critics and public have responded with delight to his communicative artistry: “Kaufmann’s special quality, one he shares with other truly great singers, is his mastery of quiet, intimate narrative”, stated the independent review blog Music OMH, “voiced with such intensity that it creates an astonishing sense of anticipation for each word. This is the art of the Lieder singer.”

In recent years, Wagner has played an increasingly important part in Kaufmann’s repertoire. His first staged performances of the title role of Wagner’s Parsifal took place in Zurich. His portrayal of Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walküre at the Metropolitan Opera conducted by James Levine and directed by Robert Lepage garnered significant critical acclaim, as did his performances in the title role of Lohengrin in Munich and at the Bayreuth Festival. Reviewing the DVD from Munich (Decca), Gramophone stated, “Kaufmann’s humanity lies essentially in his singing, but he plays the part with a naturalness, an absence of stagey “attitude”, that is rare indeed . . . And his singing is surpassingly fine throughout. This is the Lohengrin voice of dreams: both romantic and heroic, with a gentle, well nourished warmth, capable of a perfectly graduated diminuendo to pianissimo.”

Kaufmann has worked with the foremost opera conductors of the age, including James Levine, Antonio Pappano, Claudio Abbado, Sir Charles Mackerras and Daniel Barenboim; he has appeared in concert with such acclaimed orchestras and ensembles as Berlin Philharmonic under both Sir Simon Rattle and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic under Helmut Rilling. With his recital partner, Helmut Deutsch, he has appeared in recitals in all the major musical capitals, and at the Munich and Salzburg Festivals. At the close of 2012, he will be at La Scala for Lohengrin, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, and in 2013 he returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Parsifal under Daniele Gatti, a role he will reprise at the Vienna State Opera under Franz Welser-Möst, as well as performing in a special Wagner Anniversary Celebration concert in Dresden. The tenor travels to the United States, Canada, Austria and Italy for recitals, and performs in Il Trovatore in Munich and Don Carlo in Munich, Salzburg and London.

A prolific recording artist, Jonas Kaufmann’s Universal Classics discography is particularly distinguished. Soon to be released are Kaufmann’s Wagner recital with Donald Runnicles and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin as well as Verdi’s Requiem and the DVD of Gounod’s Faust. In 2012, Decca released DVDs of his performances in Humperdinck’s rarely-performed Königskinder, as well as his acclaimed performances in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur with Angela Gheorghiu, while Deutsche Grammophon released the Metropolitan Opera’s Ring on DVD. He can also be seen on other Decca DVDs including Lohengrin from Munich, Carmen from the Royal Opera House, Werther from Paris, Der Rosenkavalier from Munich and Tosca from Opernhaus Zurich. Other Decca releases include the acclaimed Fidelio from the Lucerne Festival and Kaufmann’s solo recordings: Romantic Arias and Sehnsucht, a collection of German Opera Arias with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado, Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin with Helmut Deutsch and a collection of Verismo Arias with Antonio Pappano and the orchestra of Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Jonas Kaufmann completed his musical studies in his native Munich, participated in masterclasses with James King, Hans Hotter and Josef Metternich and subsequently perfected his vocal technique with Michael Rhodes. He began his professional career at the Staatstheater Saarbrücken in 1994 and was soon invited to make debuts at the Stuttgart Opera and Hamburg State Opera. International debuts at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera and the Teatro alla Scala followed.

Kaufmann has won many awards and prizes, including a 2012 ECHO Klassik for “Best Opera Recording” (Fidelio) and the Bayerische Europamedaille (2012) in recognition of services rendered in promoting the reputation of Bavaria in Europe. In 2011 he received the Gerda Lissner Foundation Charity prize and also won Musical America’s “Vocalist of the year”, a Gramophone Classical Music Award for Verismo Arias and the coveted Opera News Award.

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