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Just in: Top Wagner tenor wins European culture prize

Two albums of Wagner arias have been spinning round my head these past few weeks. One is by Jonas Kaufmann, who (some believe) sings better with his shirt off.


kaufmann wagner

The other, out next month is by Klaus Florian Vogt, who sings most summers at Bayreuth but never a big houses because his is not a giant voice. It is, however, a fabulous, liquefying instrument. I was knocked out by his performance last summer in Lohengrin and again on Sony in his forthcoming Wagner bits. Just too beautiful to believe.

klaus florian vogt

Vogt was announced today as joint winner of the European Culture Prize, awarded by the European Parliament. He shares it with Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirschlager.


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  1. now kauffmann was given 5 stars on sinfini … will there be a … florian vogt review I wonder? Hmm

  2. Fun reading your posts, Norman. I think the opera houses agree with you about Kaufmann’s state of undress.

    On the other hand, the voice is fabulous and he knows how to use it. His Siegmund, and his Parsifal are marvelous, I heard it Monday night. A few years ago he headlined in Faust. The acting didn’t make it, and the voice was too strident and loud for the French music. I preferred the second cast in the spring; no contest. I can’t imagine that huge voice in a small house.

  3. David Boxwell says:

    Vogt is a Mime who wants to be a Siegfried. He’s simply pitiable in Nagano’s version of Mahler’s DLVDE.

    JK, on the other hand, is the Real Deal.

  4. Ignacio Martínez-Ybor says:

    Vogt would make a good Don Octavio. He’s as ridiculous a Wagner tenor as Nagano a Wagner conductor…..

  5. And here, ladies and gentlemen, do we have yet more proof that music criticism is ultimately useless – some people like Kaufmann, others Vogt.
    Arguing about them is fun (and whiles away the hours), but not much else.
    I know both and wouldn’t go to a Vogt performance if you paid me well to do so – good news for the other guys who like him, as this means that there’s one ticket more for them to buy!
    What I do have to say is that he seems to me indicative of the general trend towards small (even in some cases very small voices), and not just in Wagner. They sound great in theatres like the Theater an der Wien, but ridiculous in larger houses (if they can be heard at all, which again raises the question of whether there is electronic support provided).
    What they would have sounded like next to sopranos like Nilsson or Voigt in their prime, Basses like Salminen or Moll, or Altos such as Fassbaender et al I shudder to think.
    Tempora mutantur ……….

    • I agree with Beaumont. re Kaufmann’s voice; beautiful as it is, it’s too small. I feel sorry for the people sitting in the back rows (most of the house) of the MET since he is hard to hear. I was there for his Sigmund, and sat in box 12!!!! Mind you, he was placed stupidly at the back of the stage. Having said this, he is divine to watch on the HD broadcast in the movies, and his voice is great in that forum for Parsifal.
      Wait until you hear Peter Mattei and Pape.

  6. I agree Kaufmann is fantastic

    He’s back at ROH next season in a new production of Manon Lescaut with Kristine Opolais (Mrs Andris Nelsons)

  7. Graf Nugent says:

    Klaus brings something else to the table and it’s very convincing. His voice carries extremely well in big houses, by the way…

  8. Graf Nugent says:

    I’ve never heard either Stolzing or Lohengrin sound so easy, by the way. It’s certainly very comforting after having to sweat through evenings where the tenor isn’t up to the role.

    • Try Seiffert or Botha for starters.

      • Graf Nugent says:

        I’ve worked with them both, they’re very good, but Seiffert is more at ease in Tannhäuser than Lohengrin, strange as it may sound. Vogt is more convincing on stage than Botha and his Stolzing has the requisite grace and poise of a squire. All this counts if you’re in a theatre and not sitting in front of a CD player.


    I think refering to contratenors is better Yaruosky than Vogt, but I dont imagine him singing Lohengrin with general acceptance.

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