tv Take Me to the Opera BBC News August 8, 2022 1:30am-2:01am BST
this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour, straight after this programme. 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 tenorjonas 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, 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 worki that you've done before, seems to be minimal. jonas kaufmann unveiled.
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, 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. after that, he was flooded with offers. i became what people call a star with these performances
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 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, dead 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 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 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 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. 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. so i've come to castiglione della pescaia, on the tuscan coast in italy, to meet the young singers who want to learn from kaufmann about how to get to the very top, as well as the pressures of remaining there. they sing here, every year, a dozen lucky singers are selected from hundreds of applicants to attend masterclasses with big names
from the world of opera 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 believed passionately in encouraging and mentoring exceptional young opera singers from all over the world. he sings that's beautiful. one more time.
and be even longer on heaven. the beginning... jonathan papp is co—founder and artistic director of the georg solti academy 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 aboutjonas 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? 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 i you will understand that you are speaking about taste, about extraordinary voice, about talent, about, - of course, attractiveness. he sings
what advice would you give to young tenors or young opera singers 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? 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, 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 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 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 so regular audiences may at times be disappointed when their favourite singers cancel, but how does one
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 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. 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. 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! oh, even better! they laugh 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 in the next episode, the young venezuelan conductor gustavo dudamel and why he's shaking up the world of opera and music. hello there. no sign of any rent across some parts of southern england in particular it will be dry in hampshire, no rain since the first ofjuly, and only 0.4
millimetres of rain in the centre of london. where has all the rain gone? it has been tumbling down across the north—west of scotland in the highlands, very wet, as much as ten inches of rain falling first ofjuly, about twice the amount of rain we expect at this time of the year. if we look through the next five days if there is any rent, and it won't be much, it is concentrated on the north—west corner of scotland, otherwise it will be fine and dry, and on monday we have a weather front bringing some rented islands, rented islands, and islands, most of it late, elsewhere dry we have fairweather cloud developing, many places blue skies, late wins, callaround the coast with some sea breezes but the heat is building on land, close to 30 degrees. london temperatures may not fall lower than 60 degrees overnight, much warmer nights to come to the rest of the week and also some hotter days because temperatures will continue to rise to the week
ahead, we will see heat wave conditions developing across england and wales. if we look at the next couple of days, you can see how that he builds to wednesday, thursday, and into friday where temperatures across southern england could be hitting 36 degrees once again. it's a familiar story, one we have seen over the past weeks and perhaps months, i pressure keeping it dry in the heat building underneath that high pressure, that weather front there every week in the north—west, will even get pushed away on tuesday so we have more sunshine arriving in scotland and a sunny day on tuesday, northern ireland and across england and wales, and again the winds will be late and temperatures continuing to rise, the mid— 20s across decent scotland but near 30 degrees in birmingham and also cardiff. we are going to find temperatures rising even in scotland and northern ireland, we are looking at the mid 20s, maybe a bit higher than that, while that is very warm, we have higher temperatures to come across england and wales
in that strong sunshine and light winds, temperatures will be getting over 30 degrees in quite a few places by thursday and certainly into friday as well. we still have high pressure is set to make setting close to the uk on friday, a noticeable change in the south because they will be stronger in, and he still south—easterly wind, that will dragon on the heat from the continental europe, so we have a lot of dry weather again, europe, so we have a lot of dry weatheragain, dry europe, so we have a lot of dry weather again, dry and sunny, and that he distilled their, 26 degrees, an essential part of scotland, and well over 30 degrees through many parts of england and wales, is a very hot, it is heating up though over the weekend. heatwave conditions developing in england and wales, and no sign of any rain. what about for the weekend on that? in the outlook, things start to change a bit, we will find high pressure moving away, pressure will be falling, that will mean more cloud, it may mean some showers beginning to arrive as well. it's a long way off but
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