Pavarotti, Domingo, Callas: It’s been a long time since classical music has had an obvious poster child.
While Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins and Andre Rieu have made valiant bids for the role, their appeal has always been limited and their talent doesn’t traverse generations and cultures.
Enter Jonas Kaufman. At 45 years old, he’s a relative baby on the opera scene but possesses potential so great he’s already on a firm trajectory to world domination.
His voice is incredible, he’s a great actor, and he has an ability to connect with the public that very few singers have. He’s got it.
In a February performance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, he encouraged “one of the greatest ovations in recent history” according to Bloomberg, in April he sold out London’s Royal Opera House and he is reportedly fully booked for gigs for the next five years.
That’s not to say he’s the new kid on the block. According to Kaufmann himself, his real big break came back in 2002 when he performed alongside renowned soprano Angela Gheorghiu in La Rondine at London’s Royal Opera House.
“People came to see her, and, luckily, discovered something else – me,” Kaufmann told The Guardian.
In recent years, the German tenor has slowly been amassing an epic global following thanks to his playful stage antics and impressive vocal chops.
He’s tackled everything from Don Carlos in Salzburg to Werther in Paris and produced 12 albums.
“He’s one of the great stars of today,” Peter Gelb, general manager of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, told Vogue.
“His voice is incredible, he’s a great actor, and he has an ability to connect with the public that very few singers have. He’s got it.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Kaufmann is tall, dark and handsome, with Hollywood good looks and a debonair vibe. When you Google him, one of the search suggestions is “Jonas Kaufmann shirtless”.
In short: the Munich-born phenomenon is finally injecting opera with the sex appeal it so desperately needs.
For his Australian fans, Kaufmann has long been just a compelling YouTube phenomenon, but this week he takes to the stage in Melbourne and Sydney for the first time.
Aussie audiences will get a taste of Kaufmann’s unbelievable range, velvet voice and penchant for theatrics. Non-fans may even be converted.
“People think they should have an intellectual approach to it [opera], when it was invented to entertain,” Kaufmann told The Guardian of the common misunderstanding surrounding his craft.
“Opera can only really work its magic when the audience has no preconceptions.”
See some of the performances that made Jonas Kaufmann famous below.