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Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann – March 19, 2014 Gala Concert

March 25, 2014

Jonas is unreal. Literally unreal. He is solid throughout his entire range – burnished bottom to ringing top. Any note he wants, it’s there. Any way he wants to color it, it’s there. There is such a dark richness to his voice. When he opens up the throttle, there is really no inch of space his sound doesn’t touch. It truly reverberates throughout the entire hall.  And then he’s able to scale back to the most incredible pianissimo EVER EVER EVER without losing any of the richness or fullness. The audience didn’t even wait for the final bars of “La vita è inferno all’infelice” to finish, they ERUPTED the instant his breath stopped. E.RUP.TED. It was stunning and magnificent. Hearing Jonas sing “Pourquoi me réveiller?” is one of those historic things, you know? Like, even though it wasn’t a full Werther I will be bragging about it when I’m 70. I obviously cried.

Renée sounded glorious; soooo good. Much better than some things she’s sung recently (Hello, NYE concert in Dresden?!). “Allons! adieu, notre petite table” was incredible and brought a sizable ovation. Her sense of legato has never faltered throughout her career and it was well displayed that night. She sang with such tenderness and vulnerability; an ache in her voice I’ve not heard before. I thought Danny Boy was lovely. The orchestration was beautiful; some thought it (and consequently Renee’s singing) overly saccharine, I did not. It did seem out of place in terms of the rest of the program, but what can ya do.

Faust duet –Both Renée and Jonas started off with great energy, lots of movement on stage. Probably the weakest of the three, but still solid. It was so cute watching them play young lovers. They have got insane stage and vocal chemistry and if the powers at be don’t capitalize on that, they’re idiots. Renée’s Marguerite sounded pretty darn good considering she hasn’t sung her in ages. I think the final note was the only one she didn’t nail the whole evening. Jonas’ Faust was so eager and so childlike. Not sure what else to say about his voice. It’s a goddamn marvel.

“Gia nella notte densa”. Folks, I had dreamt of this day for years. Jonas Kaufmann singing Otello to Renée Fleming’s Desdemona. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed. Renée’s voice was throbbing with love and complete devotion. Jonas sounded so completely at home. When he sings a full Otello, I tell you what, it will be Amazing. Their vocal lines intertwined so completely and so beautifully that it hurt. I’ve read some comments and had some questions about balance of sound during this duet. Renée did sound a bit stronger, but I think that was due to Jonas’ characterization of Otello. Maybe? I don’t know. It seemed to be a very internal/memory thing, but I’m not familiar enough with Otello to really know what I’m talking about. His Otello was passionate though, oh man. We got two kisses, folks. Two real kisses. They were marvelous. None of that “kiss my thumb” shit. Yes, Placido, I’m lookin’ at you. I think they were standing closer together for this duet than in the Manon one. There was no space between them. It was so immediate. They were beautiful.

Manon. This one could have been staged a little better, but it was still smoking. They are just so good together, so strong and so intelligent and always with each other. Renée had The Entire Place in the palm of her hand during “N’est-ce plus ma main que cette main presse? N’est-ce plus ma voix?”. I mean…ugh. Her tone was liquid gold. Jonas’ voice was charged with outrage and regret and then consumed with urgency and lust. They were all over each other by the end, but no crazy hot kissin’. Their sustained high notes at the end were Glory.

Sir Andrew Davis did a marvelous job with the LOC Orchestra. They never covered the singers and they moved very well with them. I never saw Renée or Jonas look over their shoulder to catch Sir Andrew’s eye; they were always at the front of the stage completely in the moment. I’m glad tempo and staying with his singers wasn’t an issue that night, because it sure was the following night during Act 1 of Clemenza. Oy.

The audience was riotous after the final notes of the St. Sulpice duet. Clapping for days, yells upon yells; a heaping of deserved praise and gratitude. Sir Andrew came back alone and began Lippen Schweigen. After the first two notes, I literally exclaimed out loud, “I totally called this!” People turned around and stared at me, and I just sat there rocking back and forth in glee. I KNEW they were going to sing it and boy did they ever. Such a treat to hear them singing in German together! It was like an endless stream of chocolate from the heavens. And then they waltzed and I melted into a puddle. Endless cries and applause once again brought them out for a second and final encore. I was not expecting “Glück, das mir verblieb” at all and it took me a few seconds to recognize it. From the first time I heard Renée sing it, this piece has always hit me in a deep place. I never thought I would hear her sing it live, let alone in its original setting, let alone with Jonas. I was a mess. Honestly a mess. I had to bite my lip to keep myself from crying out loud and making a scene. She sounded exquisite and then they were singing together and it was too much. Time stopped. Those moments that we all live for – that’s what “Glück, das mir verblieb” was that night. It was complete magic.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2014 2:06 pm

    This sounds like a total dream come true Bess! I wish i could have seen it! I was seriously yelping with joy reading this! It’s @isazozo here btw 😉

  2. Liz permalink
    March 26, 2014 8:05 pm

    Thank you! You took me there with your writing, despite the oceans in between ❤

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