Monday, March 14, 2011
In recent years the opera world has obsessed over who qualifies as a “Barihunk,” a baritone so handsome that audiences yearn to see him sing with his shirt off. Tenors must have wondered what the big deal was. People have been swooning over these higher-voiced singers for ages.
The latest swoon-worthy tenor is Munich-born Jonas Kaufmann, who drove the audience nuts Friday at his U.S. recital debut sponsored by the Los Angeles Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Fans demanded no fewer than five encores, including one played by accompanist Helmut Deutsch from an iPad. O brave new world.
Kaufmann is tall, poised, curly-haired. He has chiseled looks and dramatic presence. His voice has a baritone’s dark coloring and weight, and he can use it for poetic effect. He knows that less is more, so he did not rely on extraneous gestures to punch up his program of lieder by Schumann and Strauss.
What’s not to like?