Hailed as “the world’s greatest tenor” by The Telegraph, Jonas Kaufmann has performed over 70 roles in the world’s leading opera houses. The New York Times has described him as having “clarion top notes, the blend of virility and tenderness in his singing,” and praised his “refined musicianship.” Not only a great vocal technician, his performances are also praised for their dramatic impact, “He embodies each role with such an investment that he makes the viewer think that this is the last time he will perform this work.” (Telerama). One of today’s greatest interpreters of Lieder repertoire, Kaufmann is also in very high demand in concert. His performances and recording have earned him multiple honors and awards including eight ECHO/OPUS Klassik awards, “Singer of the Year” from multiple classical music magazines including Opernwelt, Diapason and Musical America, has been knighted as a “Chevalier de l’Ordre de l’Art et des Lettres,” and has been named a member of the Bayerischer Maximiliansorden.
His 2020/21 season – although greatly reduced due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis – includes Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Radamès in a new production of Aida at the Opéra national de Paris, the title roles in Don Carlos and in a new production of Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper, and Cavadossi in Tosca at the Salzburger Osterfestspiele. On the concert stage, he performed at Teatro alla Scala, in Bergamo, Bologna, and Madrid.
In 2020, he released Selige Stunde, composed of a collection of German Lieder, accompanied by Helmut Deutsch, and It’s Christmas, a collection of Christmas songs in English, French, German and Italian, in December 2020, both on Sony Classical.
He has collaborated with the most prestigious conductors of our time including Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, James Levine, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Valery Gergiev, Michel Plasson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniel Barenboim and Kirill Petrenko and sung in productions by Claus Guth, Sir David McVicar, Sir Richard Eyre, Christof Loy, Franco Zeffirelli, Hans Neuenfels, Olivier Py, Jonathan Kent, Simon Stone, Claxito Bieito, Martin Kusej, Krzysztof Warlikowski, and Philipp Stölzl among others.
A voice which excels in a large variety of repertoire, Kaufmann has received recognition for his performance of French, German and Italian roles.
His standout performances in the French repertoire include the title role of Werther at the Paris Opera (DVD) and the Metropolitan Opera, Don José in Carmen at the Royal Opera House (DVD), La Scala, Les Chorégies d’Orange, the Salzburger Festspiele (CD), Staatsoper Hamburg and Bayerische Staatsoper, the title role of Faust by Gounod at the Met (DVD) and the Wiener Staatsoper, and the title role of Faust in La damnation de Faust by Berlioz at the Paris Opera and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. The New York Times praised Kaufmann’s performance as Don José, writing he “has everything: intelligence, musicianship, and resourceful technique.” In 2017, he released a solo recording of French operatic repertoire, L’Opéra, which includes arias and scenes from several of the roles he has been celebrated for on stage.
Verdi has figured large in Kaufmann’s recent seasons with performances as Otello at the Royal Opera House (DVD) and the Bayerische Staatsoper, Don Carlo at the Salzburger Festspiele (DVD), Bayerische Staatsoper, Paris Opera and Wiener Staatsoper (French version), Alvaro in La Forza del Destino at the Bayerische Staatsoper (DVD) and the Royal Opera House, Radames in Aida at the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Paris Opera, Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Bayerische Staatsoper, and performances of the Verdi Requiem at La Scala (CD & DVD). In a review of the recording, The Telegraph claims, “Kaufmann’s honeyed, warm tone makes him exceptional in Verdi.” In 2013, Sony released Kaufmann’s album dedicated to the Verdi repertoire aptly titled The Verdi Album. He also brandishes full recordings of Aida and Otello conducted by Antonio Pappano.
Other notable performances in the Italian repertoire include Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West at the Wiener Staatsoper (DVD) and the Met, Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Opernhaus Zürich and the Royal Opera House (both recorded for DVD) but also at the Met, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Bayerische Staatsoper and La Scala, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut at the Royal Opera House (DVD) and the Bayerische Staatsoper, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera House (DVD), Rodolfo in La bohème at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Berlin, the title role in Andrea Chenier at the Royal Opera House (DVD), the Wiener Staatsoper, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Opera Australia, Turiddu and Canio in Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci at the Salzburger Osterfestspiele (DVD). Kaufmann released Nessun Dorma – The Puccini album in 2015, and Verismo Arias in 2010, which won a Diapason d’or and a Gramophone award.
In German operatic repertoire, he has been most celebrated for his interpretations of Wagnerian roles such as the title role in Parsifal at the Opernhaus Zürich, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Met (DVD), and Opera Australia, in Lohengrin at the Bayerische Staatsoper (DVD) the Bayreuther Festspiele, La Scala and the Paris Opera, and Sigmund in Die Walküre at the Met (DVD) and the Bayerische Staatsoper. He has recorded Die Walküre with Valery Gergiev (2013), which was awarded an Opus Klassik award. His Wagner album released in 2013 captures some of the tenor’s highly praised work in this repertoire.
Other highlights in the German repertoire also includes Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Salzburger Festspiele (DVD), Bayerische Staatsoper, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Florestan in Fidelio at the Salzburger Festspiele and Opernhaus Zurich (DVD), Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, KKL Luzern (CD) and the Paris Opera and Paul in Die tote Stadt (Bayerische Staatsoper).
Celebrated for his interpretation of Lieder, performing and recording this repertoire forms a significant part of his seasons. In addition to singing in recital at the world’s leading opera houses, other highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall, the Salzburger Festspiele, Wigmore Hall, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Barbican Center, the Philharmonie de Paris and Musikverein in Vienna. He frequently works with his longtime collaborator pianist Helmut Deutsch. Notable recordings include Strauss Lieder (2006), Sehnsucht (2009), Schuberts Die Schöne Müllerin (2010) and Winterreise (2014), Mahlers Das Lied von der Erde (2017), Wolfs Italienisches Liederbuch (2019), and Selige Stunde (2020). His interpretation has been praised as “stylish and supremely musical” as well as “rhapsodic and beguiling” by The New York Times.
Kaufmann also performs frequently in concerts around the world, from Buenos Aires to Moscow to Beijing, singing in the most prestigious venues and orchestras in each country. Although his focus has remained with classical and operatic repertoire, Kaufmann has also explored other repertoire in concert, including operetta on his album Wien (2019), songs drawn from Italian, Neapolitan and pop on his album Dolce Vita (2016), and tenor hits from the sound film era on his recording Du Bist Die Welt Fur Mich (2014).
Kaufmann continues to keep his repertoire diverse, maintaining that the variety allows him to retain his flexibility vocally, stylistically and dramatically, and the press has taken notice: “The fact that his voice contains multitudes … makes him an unclassifiable oddity, in the best possible sense. You can’t put him in a box, for the simple reason that there’s no box big enough.” (Gramophone)
A native of Munich, Germany, Jonas Kaufmann completed his vocal studies there at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, in addition to which he attended master classes with Hans Hotter, James King and Josef Metternich. During his first years on stage at the State Theatre in Saarbrücken he continued his training with Michael Rhodes in Trier.