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Jonas Kaufmann: why I have taken on Wagner’s women’s songs

The great Wagnerian tenor has recorded the Wesendock Lieder, written for the composer’s Lucerne lover. Nothing feminine about them, he explains on video – in immaculate English.

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  1. Sam McElroy says:

    The GREAT Wagnerian tenor is absolutely right! I bought the disc when it came out, and I have nearly worn it out already! What a voice! What a singer!

    • Linda Benford says:

      I agree!!!! I have noticed that there seems to be a bit of envy out there. Referring to Youtube if you don’t like
      his voice please leave the rest of us who LOVE it alone!

  2. Jesse Rosenberg says:

    Wagner’s indication that these songs were for “Frauenstimme” was not arbitrary. It was rather an acknowledgment that the much-maligned poems represent the experience and insight of a woman who had come to play a very Isolde-like role in Wagner’s life, and to whom Wagner had declared his love by presenting her with the libretto for “Tristan und Isolde.” Kaufmann’s interpretation of “Im Treibhaus,” moreover, is problematic. The homesickness of the plants is most likely metaphysical, in line with the vaguely Schopenhauer-inspired ideas which Wesendonck had discussed with Wagner. The plants can never find release or fulfillment in the world, but only beyond it. There is no evidence that Wagner saw the plant-images as referring to exile from Germany. Kaufmann is free to join the ranks of male singers who have sung one or more of the “Wesendonck-Lieder” (Lauritz Melchior, James King, Matthias Goerne, Placido Domingo), but should avoid such weak justifications.

  3. Sandrey Date says:

    Jon Andrew, the Wagnerian tenor who recently sang Otello at the age of around 80, was certainly planning to record the Wesendonk-Lieder four or five years ago. Richard Tauber recorded “Traume”. Which brings me to Strauss’ Four Last Songs, which I believe have remained exclusively soprano territory. I wonder if Jonas K would like to have a go at these great songs. Norman Del Mar in his Richard Strauss vol.3 p.466 merely says:”This group of Vier letzte Lieder was never heard by Strauss himself, nor did he give a clear indication of the order in which they were to be presented, WHEREAS THERE WAS NEVER ANY DOUBT THAT THEY MUST BE SUNG BY A SOPRANO.” I’m sure someone must know what the evidence is for this, if it exists, and it would be interesting to know whether there have been any tenors who have tackled these songs.

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