German tenor Jonas Kaufmann came on the scene in the mid-1990s and has gradually risen to the top rank of the operatic world. His is a remarkable voice in many ways. Like Plácido Domingo, to whom he is a sort of German opposite number, he excels in both Italian and German opera and also sings well in French and English (in an odd performance of a piece from Weber's Oberon, track 17). He adds freely dramatic shaping to lines of the big Verdi and Puccini tunes, almost always defamiliarizing them in ways that seem personal and passionate, with a bit of vocal gravel applied at just the right moment. Kaufmann has done his part to rediscover a languishing repertory, in his case verismo opera from around the turn of the century, and this Best of Jonas Kaufmann collection may be worth the price simply for the little-heard Ombra di nube of Licinio Refice (track 15). The collection represents a good mix of standards and innovative thinking. And, through it all, there's the kind of power that just doesn't come along often. It took a while for general listeners to wake up to the fact that Kaufmann is close to the best out there. This collection draws on recordings made between 2002 and 2010, with a variety of orchestras that are all completely overshadowed by Kaufmann's vocal artistry. It's a fine place to start with a singer well on his way to becoming a household name like the great voices of the past.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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