Valencia’s Fidelio: Value Added With Jonas Kaufmann

L. van Beethoven, Fidelio: Soloists, Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana. Conductor: Zubin Mehta. Palau de Les Arts de Valencia. 22.06.2011 (JMI)

Production: Palau de Les Arts de Valencia

Direction: Pier’Alli
Sets and Costumes: Pier’Alli
Lighting: Guido Levi


Leonore: Jennifer Wilson
Florestan: Jonas Kaufmann
Rocco: Stephen Milling
Pizarro: Yevgueni Nikitin
Marzelline: Sandra Trattnigg
Jaquino: Karl-Michael Ebner
Don Fernando: Robert Lloyd

Picture courtesy Palau de les Arts, © Tato Baeza

I have come back to Valencia to see Fidelio again, but on this opportunity with the presence of Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan in a one-off performance. The trip was worth it.

In life it often happens that someone’s misfortune coincides with the joy of others, and it is not unusual that the reason is the same for both situations. The fact that stars like Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann and Joseph Calleja decided to cancel their presence in the Metropolitan tour to Japan, fearing – however irrationally – an errant irradiating ray, is the misfortune for Japan opera lovers – but unexpected joy for others.

A few days back Zurich decided overnight to cancel the last performances of Anna Bolena and offer in its place La Boheme. The fact that Elina Garanca cancelled her appearance as Giovanna Seymour combined with the unexpected availability of Jonas Kaufmann were the reasons for this – successful, as it turned out – switch.

Valencia also benefitted from the Japanes MET-fallout, as Jonas Kaufmann became available as Florestan for one performance. His was a genuine display of vocal beauty, power and dramatic singing. The way he addressed God in the opening of Act II was breathtaking. His “Gott” lasted an eternity, beginning in a whisper, as if Florestan didn’t dare to awake God, to open his sound in such a way that God had no choice but to have Florestan saved by his wife Leonore. Many times I have seen tenors go under in this most difficult aria, but Kaufmann was like a consummate surfer, dominating the even the steepest waves with overwhelming ease. When will we see this magnificent singer again in Spain?

Zubin Mehta was even better than at the premiere [S&H review here]. I don’t know whether the presence of Jonas Kaufmann motivated him, but this Fidelio was brilliant and moving as I cannot remember any other. Jennifer Wilson, spurred on, was also a more powerful Leonore than at the premiere. A terrific night, indeed.

José MªIrurzun

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