Stories » Tenor Jonas Kaufmann seeking passion, not perfection / The Sydney Morning Herald interview

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Tenor Jonas Kaufmann seeking passion, not perfection / The Sydney Morning Herald interview

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Jonas Kaufmann is sitting opposite me at a table on the terrace of London's Royal Opera House. The roofs of Covent Garden are spread out beneath us and in the distance the capital's spires, steeples and domes are lit up by July sunshine. The 45-year-old German tenor takes a sip of black tea and pushes a hand through the mop of greying curls his fans like to call Byronic. He is wearing silver-framed Ray Bans, a Rolex and rock-star stubble. His jeans are expensively deconstructed and a beautifully tailored beige jacket hangs open over his grey T-shirt. I've just asked him how he resists becoming a monster, a question that seems apposite given the steady diet of standing ovations and superlative reviews to which he has been subjected in recent years.

Kaufmann, to use a term he would probably despise, is the total package. He has a stupendous voice – arguably the greatest tenor of his generation – that is rich and powerful in the lower register, but able to hit high notes, too. It allows him to sing the lighter tenor roles of Puccini and Verdi, but also summon the sturm und drang demanded by Wagner. He is darkly handsome, of course, and has the acting chops necessary to make a Don Jose or a Don Carlos seem like a real person experiencing real emotions. Oh, and he is also fluent in four languages. If a team of scientists was asked to devise the perfect tenor for the 21st century, the result would look … well, you get the idea. Jonas Kaufmann performs at the Sydney Opera House on August 10th and 17th. READ THE FULL Sydney Morning Herald INTERVIEW.