Here, with thanks to reader James, it is possible to answer an question that has no doubt pressed many a mind - what does Jonas Kaufmann look like with straight hair? Mozart fans may wish to turn the sound down.
Jonas Kaufmann wasn't ill; Anja Harteros turned up. Given that she'd marked half her lines at the general rehearsal earlier in the week (every singer's prerogative of course, but rare here) I had wondered. If success is defined as exceeding expectations, then the opening night of this third revival was a winner even before a note was sung.
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?
Oh dear. Looks like Jonas Kaufmann has been talked into taking yet another pop at the punters. And in German housewives' mag Freundin Donna, of all places. He complained in an interview about the uncivilised way audiences express their opinions when they don't like the direction of a production.
And another thing! There are two classes, he said - the one that pays can misbehave, and the one that gets paid must submit.
So when Jonas finds a fly in his soup, he swallows it then?
Now showing at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden is Here She Comes Now, a selection of Peyton's portraits of musicians. Most of the subjects are from the pop world - but it seems the artist's eye was caught by a certain tenor. Representing opera is Jonas Kaufmann, as captured in the Ring, Carmen and Lohengrin.
The ROH officially revealed full details of their 2013-14 season this morning. As most had slipped out one way or the other already, there are only one or two surprises - not all of them welcome.
There are seven new productions, and in celebration of Richard Strauss's 150th birthday there are three of his operas.
The most exciting new production, long-known, is Stefan Herheim's Les Vepres Siciliennes, conducted by Antonio Pappano and featuring Marina Poplavskaya, Erwin Schrott, Michael Volle and the inevitable Bryan Hymel.
Claus Guth's Die Frau Ohne Schatten comes fresh(ish) from La Scala with Johan Botha, Emily Magee, Michaela Schuster and Johan Reuter, and is conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
A new (to Covent Garden) Robert Carsen Carmelites conducted by Simon Rattle features Magdalena Kozena and Anna Prohaska.
Star-wise, Juan Diego Florez is back in La fille du régiment, this time with
Patrizia Ciofi, Ewa Podles - and future Downton Abbey star Dame Kiri te
Manon Lescaut features Jonas Kaufmann, together with Kristine Opolais and Christopher Maltman. There's a Faust revival with Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenlyside. Joyce DiDonato reprises her Maria Stuarda in a new Leiser/Caurier production, with Carmen Giannattasio and Charles Castronovo. Karita Mattila makes her return to Covent Garden in Keith Warner's splendid Wozzeck, also featuring Simon Keenlyside, and Christof Loy's Ariadne auf Naxos, with Jane Archibald and Ruxandra Donose.
To compensate for his multiple London no-shows perhaps, Jonas Kaufmann also gives a main stage recital on 6 April.
Conductor wise, the major shock is that baritenor Placido Domingo will be let loose on Tosca.
Due to an administrative oversight, it has been over a month since this blog last mentioned Jonas Kaufmann. To correct this egregious error, here is a a series of interviews der Jonas made to publicise his latest recording, Wagner:
My advice? Download it swiftly, before it gets pulled.
*UPDATE* - My heaving mailbag reveals some of you don't know how to download a YouTube video.
The easiest way is to use a YouTube built-in downloading tool. First you need to download a piece of free software called Best Video Downloader. Then, go to the video's YouTube page by left-clicking on the title at the top of the video. You will see a 'Download' button just beneath the video. Click on your preferred file type (MP4 or FLV only) and that's it. It's a large file, so it will take a few minutes to download.
Kaufmann cancelled two sold-out gala concerts in May at short notice, forcing then-Intendant Alexander Pereira to scramble for replacements. If he hadn't been able to persuade Edita Gruberova and Leo Nucci to step in, then the overall loss would have been an even bigger 800,000 francs (over half a million pounds) - a significant dent in the 134 million franc annual budget.
"This shows just how much we depend on stars," Grosskopf said.
His Zurich Opera Tosca and Carmen will be shown in full, in HD, and without breaks, together with the first and last act of the Met's Faust. In between we're promised an interview, a serenade and "musical surprises".
I'm not sure if/how you can get hold of this outside Germany, so any ideas are welcome.
Thanks to reader Michael for the following technical details about Tele 5 access in the UK:
Tele 5 Deutschland is
available, free to air
in standard definition only, on the 19.2 E Astra 1M satellite. This satellite
carries nearly all the German TV channels including ARTE. In the UK a 60 cm
dish pointing in the right direction is usually sufficient. Technical details
for Tele 5 Deutschland are: frequency 12480, vertical polarisation, SR 27500,
FEC 3/4. There is also Tele 5 Austria in standard definition on the same
satellite at 11244, horizontal polarisation SR 22000 FEC 5/6.
The HD channels for Tele
5 are encrypted and require a viewer card from the likes of Sky Germany.
Finally, more than 100 years after its premiere, Humperdinck's Königskinder is available on DVD. Or to be totally accurate, Blu-ray. If that in itself isn't enough to sell it, then there's Jonas Kaufmann in the meaty role of the King's Son.
Jens-Daniel Herzog's production for Zurich Opera updates the setting without losing sight of the story, or its fairytale aspect. It's conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, and also features Isabel Rey as a delightful Goose-Girl and the gritty-toned Oliver Widmer as the Fiddler.
The busy Metzmacher also conducted a recent audio recording. Some mystery of the classical music biz makes this pricier than the DVD. However the casting - including Klaus Florian Vogt, Juliane Banse and Christian Gerhaher - debatably suits the demands of the work better. Both recordings knock spots off earlier versions.
Who is Carmen? A seething volcano of unfettered passions? An
independent woman with the courage to forge her own destiny? A projection of
male nympho fantasies? Or a whey-faced Berlin
housewife with the voice of an angel and two left feet?
Ariadne auf Naxos - Haus für Mozart, 29 July 2012 (Salzburg Festival)
Most of us know Ariadne auf Naxos only as the familiar prologue-plus-opera. But this was put together only after the failure of an earlier version in which Molière's play Le bourgeois gentilhomme replaced the prologue. Or not quite. Conveniently for Strauss and Hofmannsthal's purposes, the original play was performed to musical accompaniment, incorporates ballets, and cues a musical entertainment at the end.
However Hofmannsthal saw fit to adapt it further. He added a final scene (later expanded to become the prologue) to explain the opera's content, cut dialogues and reassigned lines.