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tv   Take Me to the Opera  BBC News  August 6, 2022 12:30am-1:00am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines. at least ten people have been killed in israeli air strikes on the gaza stri. israel says it was in response to a threat from palestinian group islamichhad. one of its top commanders is among the dead. the conspiracy theorist alexjones has been ordered to pay 45.2 million dollars in punitive damages after falsely claiming the 2012 sandy hook school shooting was a hoax. the defamation case against the infowars founder and host was brought by the parents of one
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of the children killed. china has made a show of strength in the taiwan strait for a second day. the us has accused china of "fundamentally irresponsible behaviour" after beijing said it was stopping cooperation with the americans on a range of key issues including how of key issues, including how to tackle climate change. now on bbc news: take me to the opera. zeinab badawi finds out how the opera world is making itself fit for the future and what it takes to become a top opera star. i've been an opera fan for decades, and i want to share my passion with you, so i'm on a mission to find out how opera is making itself fit for the future. i've come to munich to meet one of my all—time opera heroes, the german tenor jonas kaufmann, who's widely viewed as the world's leading opera singer. he's a charismatic person, performer. his way of communicating, his intelligence that one hears whenever he is singing,
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isjust unique. and that makes him really very special. but the pressures of staying at the top are immense. the highs and lows of life as an operatic celebrity from one of the people who knows him best. to get to the top is not so difficult, but to stay there, this is really a hard one. are the sacrifices worth it? the moment it all falls into place and you are at a position that you've hardly ever dreamt of is so much of a payback that everything, all the work that you've done before, seems to be minimal. jonas kaufmann unveiled. let me take you to the opera.
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singing jonas kaufmann is an opera legend. he's already assured of his place in history as one of the greatest ever tenors. applause. like millions of others, i'm a huge fan ofjonas kaufmann, and i try to see him
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like millions of others, i'm a huge fan ofjonas kaufmann, and i try to see him perform whenever i can. i am in awe of his almost supernatural talent, but now i can go one step further. i've come to the opera house in his hometown, munich, to find out more about his meteoric rise to global fame. the bavarian state opera house is wherejonas began his career. and tickets are always snapped up for his performances. he sings. during intervals, the foyer shop does a brisk trade. which single artist do you sell the most dvds, cds of? the most and the best singer, it'sjonas kaufmann here in munich. and i think also in general,
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the visitors of this opera house fall in love also to this born in munich singer, jonas kaufmann. serge dorny, general manager of the bavarian state opera, explains kaufmann�*s appeal. well, the house, whenever he comes, is packed. i mean, these are... this is one of the first performances to be sold out, up to the point that even the orchestra pit... when he does a recital, we have to lift the orchestra pit and put seats. i mean, recently, in a recital, he had to sing five encores and they wouldn't stop. kaufmann�*s international career really took off in 2006, when he performed alongside soprano angela gheorghiu at the metropolitan opera in new york. i became what people call a star with these performances
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alongside angela gheorghiu at the met. but that was obviously a key moment where the international market, if you would call it, noticed that there's this guy... laughs: ..that theyjust can't avoid any more for the future. but how did he start out? well, jonas kaufmann was born in 1969, when germany was divided. his parents fled east germany in the 1950s. his father was an insurance broker, his mother a teacher, and he grew up with his older sister. we meet at the bavarian state opera house, where he first performed in his early career, and he tells me how his passion for music was formed. well, i grew up in a family that was fortunately extremely passionate with classical music and opera. they were all amateurs, obviously, but everyone was playing an instrument, and they all had subscriptions to various concert series and opera performances and theatre and everything. so, i luckily was in a good
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position to actually see all the great artists that passed through munich and the various houses here. and, of course, that does something with you. and classical music was on either radio or from tape or lps all day long, so i really sucked it up like a sponge. so, classical music was your normal, but when did you fall in love with opera? well, i was there for the very first time — actually, in this house down there — for a performance of madame butterfly by puccini. and it was kind of awakening for me. i couldn't believe what i saw, what i heard. yeah, i was right there in the middle, that centre behind the conductor, when i saw this very first performance. and it was something so thrilling that i came home and said, "this is what i want to do." he sings. kaufmann trained
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as an opera singer at the academy of music in munich. over the years, i learned how to sing, but i learned it in a way that the voice was...not harmed, maybe, but stressed so much that it was not a reliable instrument. and this is one of the absolute fundamental basics, if you want to have a long and successful career, that this instrument is reliable. and fortunately, ifound another teacher who turned the whole process upside down. how difficult was it to get to where you are, to train your voice to be as versatile and incredible as it is? i mean, of course, it was a lot of training. it was a lot of waiting and hoping and suffering, maybe, too. but the moment it all falls into place and you are at a position that you've hardly ever dreamt of is so much of a payback that everything, all the work that you've done before, seems to be minimal. it's a beautiful
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opera house, jonas. what does it mean to you performing here as a local boy? well, it's fantastic, obviously. i mean, i grew up in this city and, of course, it was always a super glamorous moment and event to be here. such a look... i look at this and it's amazing. and to then be able to not only walk through here and afford a ticket, but to be the one that people are queuing for, it's unbelievable. he sings kaufmann has to look after his voice and tries to stay healthy. well, i don't have a general recipe. i mean, i do some warm up exercises, some yoga that i do every day. and i do it also right before the performance, because i believe very much into the fact that only a body that is fit and awake can hold a healthy voice. if you only concentrate
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on these tiny little vocal cords and all your effort goes through there, i think you're going to destroy the instrument and have no result whatsoever. if you run dry, it's a matter of seconds and your voice is gone. some people chew chewing gums, or i have these little gummy bears that i put somewhere in my cheek. but something like that. while you're singing, you'll put a gummy bear...? yeah, yeah, a little something. yeah, but... really? can you sing with it? the small ones, not these big ones. the babies! that's one of the secrets of your success? they laugh. but not beer, not beer, for which the germans are renowned...? oh, absolutely. beer's very, very important because, after a performance, you're extremely dehydrated and then there's nothing better than a beer... that's an excuse, jonas kaufmann! they laugh. he sings.
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whatever role he's in, jonas kaufmann dazzles. he's renowned for a vast range of performances in tosca, la traviata, otello and fidelio, amongst many others. what is the secret of his success? that's what the next generation of opera stars want to know. i've come to castiglione della pescaia, on the tuscan coast in italy, to find out how a new generation of opera they a new generation of opera want to get the very top as they want to get the very top as well as remain the pressures being there. here, every year, a dozen lucky singers are selected from hundreds of applicants to attend masterclasses with big names from the world of opera
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at a summer school run by the georg solti academy. applause. the academy was set up in 2004 by the family of the late hungarian conductor georg solti. during a long and distinguished career, he was music director of several opera houses, including the bavarian state opera in munich, germany, where, decades later, the young kaufmann would get his performing break. solti had believed passionately in encouraging and mentoring exceptional young opera singers from all over the world. he sings. that's beautiful, dear. one more time. and be even longer on heaven. the beginning... jonathan papp is co—founder and artistic director of the georg solti academy
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and is one of the world's leading vocal coaches. we've had some really wonderful singers that we've nurtured through here, and they've gone on to sing at all the great houses. angel vargas is a tenor from puerto rico and studied music in the united states. i first sanonas kaufmann in a video in 2011 of the royal opera house production of tosca. and i had no idea what he was singing, but he made me feel so many emotions. the music and his voice just took me to a place that i wanted to feel again. so, that's why i study opera, because of the passion and the emotion i felt in his voice. what i admire the most about jonas kaufmann is his voice, his passion, his artistry. everything he brings, whenever he's on stage, isjust so pure. how would you describe jonas kaufmann�*s voice in the pantheon of tenors?
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it's extremely rare to find a voice likejonas kaufmann. and it's finding a voice where the person's put in that kind of work to give them the longevity, but also to give them this expressive quality in whatever they choose to sing, the dramatic quality, which is compelling when you're in your audience. he sings. armenian tenor tigran melkonyan is also a great admirer of kaufmann. if i meetjonas kaufmann, . i will ask how to be like him, because, actually, you can say. "jonas kaufmann" and everyone around you will understand that you are speaking about taste, l about extraordinary voice, about talent, about, - of course, attractiveness. he sings. what advice would you give to young tenors or young opera singers
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who are embarking on a great career? it's always difficult to give general advices. of course, the first advice maybe is listen to yourself, because you need to be satisfied with what you're doing, but you need to be very critical to yourself because no—one at the beginning will believe you, probably, or believe in you as much as you do. and later on, no—one will tell you... laughs. ..if you're doing something wrong! and the second is you have to burn for it. and if you burn for such thing, if you have this passion, you have to do it. and it's a tough world. and i'm sure there are a lot of great, great talents out there. but unfortunately, many of these talents never make it because they get the wrong advice, or they are not discovered by the right person to be guided in the right way, and their talent is burned within a couple of years. what would you say is the secret of your phenomenal success, jonas?
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well, the easy answer to the question, what the secret of my success is, there are not that many! i would love to have more competition, and especially the number of tenors is going down. but, i mean, stability is maybe one of the reasons. i keep that quality. and i kept it now for quite a while, for at least, let's say, 15 years. and there's a certain guarantee, when there is a performance with kaufmann, that there is a certain quality to expect. but, i mean, what about the sacrifices you've had to make along the way to get to the top of an opera career such as yours? there are a lot of things that you have to give up. i don't want to say you don't see your children grow up, but there are these moments where you really, really, really want to be there, whether it's... ..a play that they're playing or a first day at a new school and you want to be there when they come home and talk about it, because, of course,
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you hearfrom it second—hand, or maybe with a video or something, but it's not the same. it's not the same also for them. i'm sure there are people who want to swap with me, and so i shouldn't complain too much. thomas voigt is kauffman�*s official biographer and is also his media manager and close friend. even in the same production, he will never give the same performance twice because it's all different. i mean, of course, he always looks for some days to refill the batteries, but sometimes i wish he would stop for more than two weeks, let's say a month, without doing anything to be ready for the next season. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. so, depends on the planning. how does he deal with having to cancel performances when people have bought tickets
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and they want to see him? oh, yes, this is really a hard thing if he has to cancel because of illness. and on the social media, there are many, many voices of people, very disappointed. every cancellation is always a problem, and it's something that you don't want to do easily. i totally understand the frustration. what i don't understand is, if i buy a ticket for bayern munchen or chelsea and my favourite player is not playing because he's injured, everyone feels sorry for this person, but no—one asks to take its money back. they all see the same game, only that it maybe turns out with a different result because the best player was not on the field. but in opera, it is... it seems to be a very different story and people don't believe that opera singers can be sick and have problems of health, and therefore not able to sing, which on the other hand maybe
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shows me that it seems to be something extraterrestrial, something not human, what we are doing. that's why people don't believe that we are human beings and that this gift that we are having can be easily destroyed. he sings.
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so, regular audiences may at times be disappointed when their favourite singers cancel, but how does one attract such passion for opera amongst younger people? i know that young people love modern things, but they would never go to the opera to find modernity. they would go to the opera to find fantasy, to find the past, to dream away from a difficult life that they are in. so, keep the opera traditional... keep it... ..don�*t try to reinvent it in a modern way, and you feel that that will maintain and spread its appeal? absolutely. tell the story that people are entertained and are drawn into this...into this wonderful, magicalworld. are you worried about the future of opera? i am worried, because i... of course, everyone wants to do something new. music means it is something
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that not only entertains us, but itjust resonates somewhere within us. and it can only resonate if it has a certain beauty. and the more you go away from these rules and recipes that for several centuries did work well, the more complicated this music becomes. he sings. jonas kaufmann is extremely important, actually, for opera today and opera tomorrow. somehow, he makes it relevant. he gives it a kind of actuality, his personality, the way he is approaching it. so, he makes it that opera is not something about the past. there is no nostalgia of the past. i mean, somehow, he communicates nostalgia of the future.
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so, jonas, what are your plans for the future? or have you done everything you want to do? well, pretty much, yes. the list is getting shorter and shorter. it's more of the same, but more of the same is actually already quite a variety because, i mean, fortunately, the repertoire has been growing so big that whatever i take on, even if i've done it already several times, but it's certainly ages ago, and that makes this whole thing very exciting and interesting and keeps me attracted to it. it's been a joy to spend time withjonas in munich. i even managed to share the stage with him. this is a stage with which you're very familiar, jonas. it is true, absolutely, yes. and what's it like performing here in your hometown? it's fantastic. imean, it's... it's an absolute dream come true. i mean, imagine you stand here and there's a crowd... ..that cheers and is asking for more.
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i don't have words to describe the feeling that you are the one chosen to stand there. it's amazing. he sings. oh, yeah, been a while! he laughs. being serenaded byjonas kaufmann, i have to say... ijust introduced her as my fiancee! jonas kaufmann�*s standing as one of the greatest opera singers in history is secure. here in his hometown of munich, audiences at the bavarian state opera house see him as the local boy turned opera legend. and he inspires a new generation of singers, as well as his countless fans — including me — who will want to see him perform for many years to come. applause.
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in the next episode, the young venezuelan conductor gustavo dudamel, and why he's shaking up the world of opera and music. hello there. well, we've had a hosepipe ban come into force to hampshire and the isle of wight today, but we do have further bans on the way to parts of sussex, kent and south wales over the next week or two. today it's been another dry day across the south of the uk, but further north we have seen some shower clouds. the showers have been pretty well scattered in nature. looking at the rainfall
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you might expect over the next five days, you can see it stays completely bone dry across the majority of england and wales, and answering the big question, when�*s it likely to rain across these southern parched areas, well, i reckon it's probably going to stay dry for the next ten days, but the dry spell could extend as much as two weeks. either way, it's going to be a long time before we see any significant rain for southern wales, southern counties of england. any rain that is on the way will probably fall during the last third of august. now, looking at the weather picture for saturday, it's another dry story for most of england and wales. we've got some rain crossing northern areas of scotland, and the cloud popping up enough for northern ireland and northern england to bring an odd isolated, fleeting, passing light shower, but most will have a dry day. temperatures high teens across northern areas, 25 degrees in the sunshine across the south—east. feeling warm where the sunshine does come out, and we still have these rather perfect conditions for the athletics at the commonwealth games, with light winds, sunny spells, temperatures in the low 20s. now, through saturday night—time, it's another dry night for most.
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however, there's still some rain on the charts, working gradually southwards into scotland. might see a little bit of that working into the central belt by the end of the night, heading into the first part of sunday morning. temperatures a little higher than we've seen over recent nights, 10 to 1a degrees. now for sunday, again there's a little bit of rain in the forecast for scotland, although no great amounts are in the forecast. away from that feature, we'll see dry conditions for northern ireland, for england and wales, with some sunshine. temperatures are starting to rise. 21 for aberdeen, 25 cardiff, and 27 in the sunshine for london, so feeling quite hot. that trend for the temperatures to rise continues on into monday. in fact, most of the uk will have dry weather. there's just a little bit of rain for the hebrides, maybe the far north—west of highland, and a threat for orkney and shetland, but otherwise fine, with some sunshine. and those temperatures more widely getting into the mid to high 20s — 27 for both cardiff and for london. now, into the new week,
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we're going to start to see this kind of configuration in the jet stream, where we get a big ridge, and that encourages air to sink around about the uk, and it's that sinking and accumulating of the air near the earth's surface that we call high pressure. here it is. and that will tend to build into next week, so it'll become more dominant, a stronger feature, and that means across pretty much the whole of the uk, we're looking at dry weather, and day by day, temperatures will start to edge up a little bit. so for some, we're looking at hot weather conditions into next week. now for the north of the uk, a fine spell of weather. where we've seen showers over recent days, it's dry, with temperatures more widely reaching the low to mid 20s, so feeling warm in the sunshine. but further southwards, across parts of england and wales, we'll see those temperatures climb further, and we're looking at highs at least getting into the low 30s across parts of, say, cardiff and the london area, but the peak temperatures could well reach around 32 to 33 degrees celsius towards the middle of the week. so it is going to be hot, and there's still, as i say,
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no significant rain in sight in the south for the foreseeable.
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this is bbc news. i'm nuala mcgovern. our top stories: israel launches airstrikes on the gaza strip. at least 10 people have died, including a senior commander of the palestinian group islamichhad. conspiracy theorist alex jones is ordered to pay $115 million in punitive damages after falsely labelling the sandy hook school shooting a hoax. chinese fighter jets fly close to the coast of taiwan, as bejing halts cooperation with the us on climate change and other key issues. thousands of performers descend on edinburgh as the world's biggest arts festival gets under way.


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