Jonas Kaufmann & Ludovic Tézier

Insieme – Opera Duets

PUCCINI: La Bohème, Act IV: ” In un Coupé?…O Mimi, tu più non torni”
PONCHIELLI: La Gioconda, Op. 9, Enzo Grimaldo
VERDI: Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Act I: “Quel est ton nom? “
VERDI: Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Act III: “Je n’en puis revenir”
VERDI: Don Carlos, Act II: “Le voilà! C’est l’infant!”
VERDI: La forza del destino, Act III: “Solenne in quest’ora”
VERDI: La forza del destino, Act III: “Nè gustare m’è dato un’ora di quiete”
VERDI: La forza del destino, Act IV: “Invano Alvaro”
VERDI: Otello, Act II: “Tu?! Indietro! Fuggi!” – “Era la notte” – “Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro”

Jonas Kaufman’s and Ludovic Tézier’s musical and personal bromance has yielded a SONY cd that features nine duets for tenor and baritone- seven by Verdi, one by Puccini, one by Ponchielli.

Antonio Pappano ably conducts the orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

With all these gourmet musical ingredients going into the mix one would think that the resulting banquet would be one to savor.

You’d be wrong.

In this recording the minuses far outweigh the pluses. Jonas Kaufman’s problematic vocalism continues to decline now that the German tenor is entering his fifty-third year of age in a three-decade career that has seen him essay with varying degrees of success every possible tenor role, from Tristan and Siegfried to Verdi’s Otello to Massenet’s Werther.

When it comes to Verdi, the Italian master has a way of exposing the faults of singers who because of faulty technique fail to embrace his music’s demands for legato, evenness of emission, and thae quintessentially Italian art of coloring the text while maintaining a healthy vocal position throughout the singer’s range at all dynamic levels.

Kaufman falters in several of these areas, singing everything at a forte to fortissimo level, regardless of what the dynamic markings of the music call for. When Kaufmann attempts to sing piano above the staff, he often resorts to a crooning sound totally unsuited to Italian opera. In moments where a seamless legato is called for Kaufman is unable to maintain what Verdi time and again described as “lunga la linea”, which simply translates as sing it long lined.

The French baritone Ludovic Tézier has been treading the world’s major operatic stages with great success. His hefty dramatic sound and his Italianate vocalism and style serve him in good stead in this album, notwithstanding his having to apply his voice pedal to the metal to survive Kaufman’s loud, louder, and loudest singing.

Tézier is an elegant singer that is unquestionably ready to sing all the major Italian baritone roles. In this recording he is impressive as the Forza del destino Don Carlo, the La gioconda Barnaba, and Iago, noble of utterance as Montfort in Les Vêpres Siciliennes, and appropriately lyrical as Rodrigo in Don Carlos.

It would be wonderful to have a CD of baritone arias featuring Tézier, an impressively gifted artist who, as the old-time teachers used to preach, sings by using his dividends, rather than his capital.

Rafael de Acha ©2022

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