Jonas Kaufmann / Philharmonia Orchestra c.Jochen Rieder - Royal Festival Hall, 21 April 2013
You can gauge the quality of a Wagnerian tenor by the size of his Wälse. Jonas Kaufmann has a big one. Two in fact. He dragged them out a little beyond the bounds of musicality at the Royal Festival Hall - but with breath control like that, who wouldn't?
Kaufmann's Walküre extract provided the only questionably show-off moment in an evening that began in Italy and ended in Germany. For all his power and native insight in the Wagner half, it was the passion and drama of Verdi's music before the interval that seemed tailor made for his hot blooded style.
He was in fine, secure voice, a slight touch of phlegm the only worry, so the bets are still on for his Covent Garden Don Carlo. A resplendent Io l'ho perduta gave a hint of what we can expect. There's nothing to criticise, not even to nitpick - there's just no-one to touch him right now.
Surprisingly, he referred to his music stand for everything - including the Don Carlo he'll be singing next week. "A safety line" as he explained in a brief preamble. Or perhaps working with Angela Gheorghiu has affected his short term memory.
Here is just a fraction of the applause he received (four encores, countless curtain calls stretching to an extra half an hour), with thanks to Kyoko:
The full set list:
Verdi: Overture, Luisa Miller, Oh! fede negar potessi from Luisa Miller, Quando le sere al placido from Luisa Miller, Overture, Nabucco, O inferno! Sento avvampar nell'anima from Simon Boccanegra, Cielo pietoso, rendila from Simon Boccanegra, Prelude to Act 1 from La Traviata, Io l'ho perduta! from Don Carlo, Overture, La forza del destino, La vita è inferno from La forza del destino
Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre, Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater from Die Walküre , Overture, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Am stillen Herd from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,Prelude to Parsifal, Act 3, Amfortas! Die Wunde! from Parsifal