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Août 2014

 

Jonas Kaufmann

« Jonas Kaufmann: Super Hero »

Ainsi est intitulé l'article consacré au ténor par la revue australienne de la musique classique et des arts, Limeligt.

Le cœur de cet article est consacré à la parution du prochain album du ténor. Jonas Kaufmann s'en explique longuement :

Given all of this deeply serious work, it comes as a surprise to hear that his new album for Sony Classical is Viennese operetta. I grew up with the recordings of Mario Lanza in this repertoire and as I have got older, I like them less – the full-pelt, artificial emotion, the relentless brightness in his voice, the self-consciously shimmering MGM strings. It had always seemed to me like taking the sweetest of deserts and then drowning it in golden syrup. Pleasant at the time, but hardly complex and easy to feel nauseous. Would Kaufmann’s album be, dare one say it, a crowd-pleasing sell-out (in both senses)?

“This idea didn’t come from anyone but me,” he says emphatically when we meet backstage at London’s Royal Opera House after a Manon Lescaut rehearsal, “My grandmother would hum all those melodies from the past. It was difficult for her to get her hands on recordings of it, but it was part of her youth. And my grandfather had studied in Berlin in the 1920s so he had actually seen all of it. They used to tell me about this golden era, this moment where people tried to forget about their sorrows and just dived into this entertainment. So it was always in my head. Then in 2001 or 2002, the ZDF radio station asked me to sing the operetta song Du bist die welt fur mich for one of those popular Sunday afternoon shows. They gave me the recording afterwards and I listened to that song all the time!

“When a few years ago I did the big Waldbühne open-air concert in Berlin and I needed something light as an encore, I came back to that – it’s a wonderful song, written by Richard Tauber, I mean, hello?! And the audience went wild. They almost cried – I could see elderly people being reminded of their youth, really touched.”

The video of that occasion bears him out. As he takes up the lilting melody, the audience visibly stills, and camera shots pick out couples embracing, looking at one another with knowing, shared memory. And let me say up front, his album is a revelation. He treats each song with the same care and intelligence he would bring to any Schubert Lied or opera aria. Take the most famous song, Dein ist mein Ganzes Herz from Lehar’s Das Land Des Lächelns. Lanza’s version all but overheats, a more recent version on DG has the tenor Piotr Beczała doing the standard tenor thing, very fine but generalised ardency. Turn to Kaufmann and it’s a different world. Even in this most romantic of songs he finds layers, introspection, even a sense of pain – so that when does push the big emotional buttons, it feels like an eruption, and one that, dramatically speaking, has been earnt.

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"IT WAS A GOLDEN ERA... WHEN PEOPLE TRIED TO FORGET THEIR SORROWS AND DIVE INTO ENTERTAINMENT"

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“These numbers are written for real tenors,” he explains, “for Richard Tauber, for Joseph Schmidt, for Helge Rosvaenge even. Some of them are very difficult – in Dein ist mein ganzes Herz Lehar copies Puccini’s technique of having the violins double the voice so it’s really thick orchestration. Of course some of these melodies are just to entertain, but some are much more complex than you would have suspected, and most are rarely heard. Eduard Künneke’s Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk, a neck-breaking number that is a very tough sing, was only ever recorded by Rosvaenge himself, then two attempts by Fritz Wunderlich, and by Rudolf Schock and then never, ever again! Can you imagine? For 50 years nobody has touched it! So this was an obvious project for me. But the question was always how to do it so it doesn’t seem like crossover. Because it’s not crossover. These songs were done by serious singers and they did it with their hot blood. They didn’t do it to sell more albums because they didn’t need to!”


Kaufmann as Don Carlo in a Bayerische Staatsoper production

One track, Feunde das Leben ist lebenswert from Lehar’s Giuditta, seems straight out of the verismo or the zarzuela playbook – it starts with an ultra-dramatic high note that goes straight to the gut. Even when the main melody starts, there’s the sense that it can – and does, actually – turn on a die and go for the solar plexus. First cousin, you might say, to those red-hot Italian and Spanish opera-for-the-people art forms. Kaufmann agrees, pointing out that most of these works were written for places like Berlin’s Metropoltheater (the Komische Opera today) – the people’s opera.

So then, I wonder, how did we get from there, from the development of a fascinating art form that was so much of its culture, its time and its society, to the souped-up, smoothed-out Lanza period. “Yah, but that came later, in the 1950’s when they brought back those songs for the first time and adapted them to the style of the day, and those high strings, choruses and so on were popular,” he says, “And part of the reason why these things are not so much in our ears now is because they stretched it too far then.” To illustrate how far this was the wrong direction he cites a recent concert in Vienna where the pianist Helmut Deutsch begged him to do as an encore a Franz Liszt song, Es muss ein wuderbares sein. He chuckles. “And he played it and I said, ‘That can’t be Franz Liszt! This is an operetta song!’ And it turned out that it was deliberately copied from the Ralph Benatzky and Robert Stolz show Im weissen Rössl [The White Horse Inn]. That had been a huge success at the time, and it was known that people would recognise the tribute and smile. So there is a bridge even between Liszt and these people.” A shaky, doubtless illegal YouTube video of Kaufmann’s Vienna performance reveals a chuckle from the audience as they, too, recognise the tune.

Yet this school of operetta is an art form interrupted. Ironically, says, Kaufmann, it was the very same sense of desperation for something to hold on to in a time of economic Depression and post-World War One that led both Germans and Austrians to the escapism of operetta and, gradually, into the arms of fascism and the murderous embrace of Nazism. And, along with all its other tyrannies, the latter phenomenon stopped operetta’s development in its tracks.

“This music became extinct because all the people involved in it were Jews and they all went abroad, to the United States or elsewhere. And that’s where the roots of the American musical come from,” he says. “It was a vivid, alive creative process, one that by the early 1930s was already incorporating, for instance, jazz elements that had reached Europe, and it all got cut off by the Third Reich. And the composers and lyricists mostly went to write the songs and melodies for the American movies or for the musicals, because that was the only thing they could do.”

He pauses to tell me the poignant story of the composer Robert Stolz, who returned to Austria from America immediately the war ended. “Though he had success in the States, as composer as well as conductor, he never felt at home there. Since he wasn’t Jewish he could have stayed in Austria; but he was absolutely against Nazism. So he fled to Paris in the night before the Nazis’ invasion of Austria. But when World War II broke out 18 month later, he was imprisoned by the French government. Gathered together with 50,000 other prisoners in the football stadium Colombe, he fell ill with pneumonia, and he would have died there, if his wife Einzi hadn’t bailed him out. Thank God he did survive as an composer: coming back to Austria after WWII he could revive his great career in Europe.”

- See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/jonas-kaufman-super-hero#sthash.d4OlwJsv.dpuf

... Given all of this deeply serious work, it comes as a surprise to hear that his new album for Sony Classical is Viennese operetta. I grew up with the recordings of Mario Lanza in this repertoire Photo Campagne de presse pour l'album et pour le coffretand as I have got older, I like them less – the full-pelt, artificial emotion, the relentless brightness in his voice, the self-consciously shimmering MGM strings. It had always seemed to me like taking the sweetest of deserts and then drowning it in golden syrup. Pleasant at the time, but hardly complex and easy to feel nauseous. Would Kaufmann’s album be, dare one say it, a crowd-pleasing sell-out (in both senses)?

“This idea didn’t come from anyone but me,” he says emphatically when we meet backstage at London’s Royal Opera House after a Manon Lescaut rehearsal, “My grandmother would hum all those melodies from the past. It was difficult for her to get her hands on recordings of it, but it was part of her youth. And my grandfather had studied in Berlin in the 1920s so he had actually seen all of it. They used to tell me about this golden era, this moment where people tried to forget about their sorrows and just dived into this entertainment. So it was always in my head. Then in 2001 or 2002, the ZDF radio station asked me to sing the operetta song Du bist die welt fur mich for one of those popular Sunday afternoon shows. They gave me the recording afterwards and I listened to that song all the time!

“When a few years ago I did the big Waldbühne open-air concert in Berlin and I needed something light as an encore, I came back to that – it’s a wonderful song, written by Richard Tauber, I mean, hello?! And the audience went wild. They almost cried – I could see elderly people being reminded of their youth, really touched.”

The video of that occasion bears him out. As he takes up the lilting melody, the audience visibly stills, and camera shots pick out couples embracing, looking at one another with knowing, shared memory. And let me say up front, his album is a revelation. He treats each song with the same care and intelligence he would bring to any Schubert Lied or opera aria. Take the most famous song, Dein ist mein Ganzes Herz from Lehar’s Das Land Des Lächelns. Lanza’s version all but overheats, a more recent version on DG has the tenor Piotr Beczała doing the standard tenor thing, very fine but generalised ardency. Turn to Kaufmann and it’s a different world. Even in this most romantic of songs he finds layers, introspection, even a sense of pain – so that when does push the big emotional buttons, it feels like an eruption, and one that, dramatically speaking, has been earnt.

horizontal rule

"IT WAS A GOLDEN ERA... WHEN PEOPLE TRIED TO FORGET THEIR SORROWS AND DIVE INTO ENTERTAINMENT"

horizontal rule

“These numbers are written for real tenors,” he explains, “for Richard Tauber, for Joseph Schmidt, for Helge Rosvaenge even. Some of them are very difficult – in Dein ist mein ganzes Herz Lehar copies Puccini’s technique of having the violins double the voice so it’s really thick orchestration. Of course some of these melodies are just to entertain, but some are much more complex than you would have suspected, and most are rarely heard. Eduard Künneke’s Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk, a neck-breaking number that is a very tough sing, was only ever recorded by Rosvaenge himself, then two attempts by Fritz Wunderlich, and by Rudolf Schock and then never, ever again! Can you imagine? For 50 years nobody has touched it! So this was an obvious project for me. But the question was always how to do it so it doesn’t seem like crossover. Because it’s not crossover. These songs were done by serious singers and they did it with their hot blood. They didn’t do it to sell more albums because they didn’t need to!”.

Photo Campagne de presse pour l'album et pour le coffretOne track, Feunde das Leben ist lebenswert from Lehar’s Giuditta, seems straight out of the verismo or the zarzuela playbook – it starts with an ultra-dramatic high note that goes straight to the gut. Even when the main melody starts, there’s the sense that it can – and does, actually – turn on a die and go for the solar plexus. First cousin, you might say, to those red-hot Italian and Spanish opera-for-the-people art forms. Kaufmann agrees, pointing out that most of these works were written for places like Berlin’s Metropoltheater (the Komische Opera today) – the people’s opera.

So then, I wonder, how did we get from there, from the development of a fascinating art form that was so much of its culture, its time and its society, to the souped-up, smoothed-out Lanza period. “Yah, but that came later, in the 1950’s when they brought back those songs for the first time and adapted them to the style of the day, and those high strings, choruses and so on were popular,” he says, “And part of the reason why these things are not so much in our ears now is because they stretched it too far then.” To illustrate how far this was the wrong direction he cites a recent concert in Vienna where the pianist Helmut Deutsch begged him to do as an encore a Franz Liszt song, Es muss ein wuderbares sein. He chuckles. “And he played it and I said, ‘That can’t be Franz Liszt! This is an operetta song!’ And it turned out that it was deliberately copied from the Ralph Benatzky and Robert Stolz show Im weissen Rössl [The White Horse Inn]. That had been a huge success at the time, and it was known that people would recognise the tribute and smile. So there is a bridge even between Liszt and these people.” A shaky, doubtless illegal YouTube video of Kaufmann’s Vienna performance reveals a chuckle from the audience as they, too, recognise the tune.

Yet this school of operetta is an art form interrupted. Ironically, says, Kaufmann, it was the very same sense of desperation for something to hold on to in a time of economic Depression and post-World War One that led both Germans and Austrians to the escapism of operetta and, gradually, into the arms of fascism and the murderous embrace of Nazism. And, along with all its other tyrannies, the latter phenomenon stopped operetta’s development in its tracks.

“This music became extinct because all the people involved in it were Jews and they all went abroad, to the United States or elsewhere. And that’s where the roots of the American musical come from,” he says. “It was a vivid, alive creative process, one that by the early 1930s was already incorporating, for instance, jazz elements that had reached Europe, and it all got cut off by the Third Reich. And the composers and lyricists mostly went to write the songs and melodies for the American movies or for the musicals, because that was the only thing they could do.”

He pauses to tell me the poignant story of the composer Robert Stolz, who returned to Austria from America immediately the war ended. “Though he had success in the States, as composer as well as conductor, he never felt at home there. Since he wasn’t Jewish he could have stayed in Austria; but he was absolutely against Nazism. So he fled to Paris in the night before the Nazis’ invasion of Austria. But when World War II broke out 18 month later, he was imprisoned by the French government. Gathered together with 50,000 other prisoners in the football stadium Colombes, he fell ill with pneumonia, and he would have died there, if his wife Einzi hadn’t bailed him out. Thank God he did survive as an composer: coming back to Austria after WWII he could revive his great career in Europe.”

Vous pouvez retrouver l'intégralité de l'article sur le site du magazine.

Dernières informations:

La version Super DeLuxe comprendrait :

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Le CD,

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Le DVD making-off de l'enregistrement,

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Le DVD du concert berlinois à la maison de la radio (Funkhaus Nalepastraße),

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Trois cartes postales,

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Le calendrier,

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Une photo portrait signée,

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Un CD supplémentaire avec 6 titres en anglais, un titre en français :

 

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Paganini : « Girls Are Made to Love and Kiss » (Franz Lehár),

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The Land of Smiles : « You Are My Heart's Delight » (Franz Lehár),

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Frasquita : « My Little Nest of Heavenly Blue » (Franz Lehár),

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« My Song Goes Round the World » (Hans May),

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The White Horse Inn : « It Must Be Wonderful » (Ralph Benatzky),

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The Song is Over : « Don't Ask Me Why » (Robert Stolz),

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Le pays du sourire : « Je t'ai donné mon cœur » (Franz Lehár).

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Graz

« Concerts AIMS »

L'Institut américain d'études musicales (AIMS) à Graz est une des plus anciennes et des plus dynamiques académies d'été dans le monde. Chaque été, l'AIMS organise des concerts dans la ville sous l'intitulé « Voices of Summer ». Chaque programme à thème est proposé à plusieurs endroits de la ville. A noter, en particulier :

Concert « Alleluia ! »

 

G. Puccini : Intermezzo (Suor Angelica),

V. Bellini : Ouverture (Norma),

G. Verdi : Airs d'Otello, Il Trovatore et Requiem,

A. Boito : « L’altra notte in fondo al mare » (Mefistofele),

E. Humperdinck : Airs de Hänsel und Gretel,

P. Mascagni : « Ineggiamo il Signor non è morto! »  (Cavalleria rusticana),

R. Stolz : « Wind, o trag das Wort der Liebe » (Die Rosen der Madonna),

W.A. Mozart : Exsultate Jubilate, KV 165,

G.F. Händel : Airs du Messias.

 

Orchestre du Festival AIMS,

Choeur AIMS,

Direction : Alexander Kalajdzic.

 

Concert « Unter dem Doppeladler  »

 

Première Partie : Hongrie

 

Strauß, Johann (Fils): Ouverture (Der Zigeunerbaron),
Strauß, Johann & Josef: Vaterländischer Marsch.

 

Stolz, Robert
Es spielen die Geigen ein zärtliches Stück (soprano),
Musikant, Musikant, wo ist deine Heimat? (soprano),
Wenn der Zigeuner spielt (ensemble).

 

Kálmán, Emmerich
O Bajadere (ténor),
Sterne der Bühne (soprano),
Die Mädis, die Mädis (2 ténors ou baritons),
O jag dem Glück nicht nach (soprano & tenor),
Tanzen möcht’ ich (soprano & ténor).

 

Seconde Partie : « Wien, Du Stadt meiner Träume »
2014 marque le 200ème anniversaire du premier bal à Vienne à l’occasion du Congrès de Vienne en 1814.

 

Heuberger, Richard: Ouverture (Der Opernball),
Stolz, Robert: Wiener Café.

 

Strauß, Johann (Fils)
Wenn die Wienerstadt Lust zum Feiern hat (Der Zigeunerbaron arr. Stolz) (soprano),
Du Märchenstadt im Donautal from Das Spitzentuch der Königin (ténor),
Die Wienerstadt, die hat ein Symbol (ensemble).

 

Straus, Oscar
Melodies extraites de Ein Walzertraum (soprano, ténor & basse)
1. G´stellte Mad´ln resch und fesch,
2. Du bist der Traum, den oft ich geträumt,
3. Leise, ganz leise klingt´s durch den Raum.

 

Stolz, Robert
Wien wird schön erst bei Nacht (ténor),
Im Prater blüh´n wieder die Bäume (basse),
Im Frühling, im Mondschein, im Prater in Wien (soprano).

 

Sieczyński, Rudolf
Wien, Wien, nur du allein sollst stets die Stadt meiner Träume sein!
(ensemble).

 

Orchestre du Festival AIMS,

Direction : Gerrit Prießnitz,

Présentation: Hans Stolz.

 

« Frühjahrsparade »

 

Il y a tout juste 50 ans, était créée la Parade de Printemps au Volksoper de Vienne, l'occasion de la présenter sur la scène de la casemate de Graz cet été. Toni Maier, à l'initiative de Ia « Revue der Operette » en a profité pour annoncer au micro de l'ORF, que chaque été jusqu'en 2017, une opérette de Robert Stolz y serait représentée avec le concours de la ville de Graz et du Land de Styrie. Il veut en faire un « Mörbisch im Kleinen ».

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Pour davantage d'informations, contactez :

Société Internationale Robert STOLZ
19, rue de Ville d'Avray F-92310 SEVRES
Tél : 33.(0)1.46.23.16.20
Télécopie :
Internet :
robert.stolz@free.fr

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