German tenor Jonas Kaufmann has been laying a strong claim to the legacy of the superstar tenors of the 1980s and 1990s, but until now it hasn't been completely clear that Verdi, the tenor's bread and butter, was a fully compelling part of his arsenal. With this release, Kaufmann puts any doubts to rest and steps up in a big way to his signing by the Sony Classical label and its attendant operatic muscle. The sheer ease of Kaufmann's voice in its upper register is about to get to casual opera fans in a big way (and he's a bit hipper than Pavarotti or even Domingo ever were), and right now the sky would seem to be the limit to his popularity. Yet there is plenty here for opera scorekeepers to dig their teeth into, and it seems likely that Kaufmann will come out very well with them, too. Consider the high C at the end of "Di quella pira" from Il trovatore: surely few tenors in history have hit it out of the park the way Kaufmann does. There is a good mix of hits from various parts of Verdi's career and some lesser-known pieces, and the album is all newly performed, not a collection of things recorded at different times. It has a sense of confidence, purpose, and commitment to the text (no soulless technical perfection here), and it's a joy for listeners at all levels. With recent Wagnerian (and Straussian) triumphs under his belt, Kaufmann seems to be entering a period where he can do pretty much anything and probably will.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Un ballo in maschera|
|La Forza del Destino|