Tenor Jonas Kaufmann possesses an operatic and concert repertory that spans several centuries, taking in Monteverdi and J.S. Bach and reaching into the 20th century with works by Schoenberg and contemporary composers. The vast area in between includes Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Puccini, and many more. Kaufmann willingly ventures into the obscure or little-known realms, too, appearing on world-premiere recordings of neglected operas. While his discography clearly suggests a preference for opera, he has sung much concert fare, including Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, as well as lieder.
Kaufmann was born in Munich, Germany, on July 10, 1969. As a child, he was frequently taken to the opera by his father, while he sang in boys' choirs and took piano lessons. Later, he enrolled at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, where he took master classes from Hans Hotter, Josef Metternich, and James King. It was Hotter who interested Kaufmann in the lieder of Richard Strauss. From 1994 to 1996, Kaufmann sang at the opera house in Saarbrücken. Since the mid-'90s, he has made regular guest appearances at the world's major opera houses and the most prestigious venues in New York, Paris, Vienna, Milan, and many others. In 2001, he joined the Zurich opera and has since received high praise there for his Mozart (Idomeneo, Titus, Tamino), Gounod (Faust), and Verdi (the Duke). His debut recital at Wigmore Hall in London in 2002 was a great success, as was his debut at the Met in 2006 in the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. Kaufmann was the subject of a documentary in 2016, An Evening with Puccini, covering a concert of Puccini arias he performed at La Scala in Milan.
Kaufmann has made numerous recordings for a variety of labels, including EMI Classics, Decca, and Philips, among others. His first major recordings began appearing around the turn of the century, with Loewe's The Three Wishes (2000) and Marschner's Vampyr (2002). Kaufmann's albums have appeared with increasing frequency in the new century. In 2006, he issued an acclaimed recording of Strauss' lieder on Harmonia Mundi. His 2008 Decca recording, Romantic Arias, which includes arias from Tosca, La bohème, La Traviata, and other operatic standards, was his first solo recording. Kaufmann signed an exclusive contract with Sony Classical in 2013, and his debut for the label, The Verdi Album, topped both pop and classical charts in Germany and Austria, as did the following year's You Mean the World to Me. In 2020, Kaufmann was featured on several releases, including his first holiday album, It's Christmas!; Selige Stunde: Romantic Songs, with frequent collaborator Helmut Deutsch; and Verdi's Otello, with Antonio Pappano leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
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