Jonas Kaufmann is a phenomenon. With his musicality, his vocal technique and his expressive powers - to say nothing of his matinée-idol good looks - he is widely regarded as the greatest tenor of today. Thomas Voigt's intimate biography, written in collaboration with Kaufmann, reflects on the singer's artistic development in recent years; his work in the recording studio; his relationship to Verdi and Wagner; the sacrifices of success; and much more. It gives unparalleled insight into the world of one of the most captivating opera singers of the international stage.
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Not bad but a little boring
Let me preface my review my saying that I am a Kaufmann fan so to speak. I find his approach to singing and acting very unique and as such exciting. I’ve been waiting for this book to become available in the US and was very happy to see that it’s finally made it across the pond. Now, this is definitely not your standard bio book but a collection of interviews spanning from 2010 to 2017 by one of Kaufmann’s friends and current employees. Needless to say, it offers little insight into the tenors’ private life and focuses largely on how awesome of an artist he is. This may as well be titled “Ode to Kaufmann”. What really distracted me was the torrid English translation of this book which was originally published in german. I’m a native german speaker and would have much preferred to read this in german as the English translation is just plain bad which takes away from the overall impact of the book.
It is an insightful book into the life of an opera superstar but lacking totally in the “juicy” bits that we as opera lovers relish about our stars. It’s all very banal, avoiding anything that could make Kaufmann look anything less than the charmed star that he is. I was hoping for a more balanced and unbiased book on the tenor but maybe someone not of or in his personal circle will one day write a more organic and less PR oriented book on him.
It’s a decent read but it tends to get boring once the reader realizes that this is a PR vehicle for Kaufmann rather than a in depth book on the man or on what really goes on behind the gilded curtains of the major opera stages. All of the interesting bits have been omitted and what we get is a white washed view of it all as told to present the tenor in only the most favorable light possible.