Fellow-blogger Intermezzo put up a wonderful post recently allowing us to hear Jonas Kaufmann singing Die schoene Muellerin complete in concert in numerous Youtube episodes. In the Comments boxes, though, there appears a diatribe following the cancellation of his appearance in Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House the other day... (it was Sunday afternoon - the one I'd hoped to get to, but didn't).
The opera-goer writes:
"Comment in the audience was VERY negative about Kaufmann, and I am sure he has lost HUNDREDS of fans - as he deserved to. I have lost interest in him, having followed his progress for years and bought his CDs...No doubt he will be back on stage in London for the last Don Carlos this season, without another thought for the decent people he has snubbed on Sunday while he nursed himself (or whatever else he was doing) for the people he really cares about."
Several others have written in to counter this release of vile bile, and ask whether it's right that singers should go ahead with performances if they are ill (apparently JK had a cold). But it looks like a total no-brainer to me: of course they shouldn't! They would sound awful and disappoint all those 'decent people' even more horribly. In some cases they'd risk doing their voices more serious and lasting damage. A voice is a complex part of the body and you can't mess with it.
This is not much of a comparison, but I had a nasty chest infection back in the spring and had to do recitations in a concert with it. This totalled only 23 minutes of talking into a microphone in a modest-sized venue. But I lost my voice completely for 4 days afterwards and ended up with pleurisy which knocked me out for 7 weeks. So imagine what singing Verdi to 2,500 people could do...
I imagine that the loss of a few hundred mean-spirited 'fans' won't hurt JK too much. With fans like that, who needs enemies?
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
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