This live concert recording from July at the open-air Waldbühne in Berlin is fun, if a very long listen, clocking in at 79 minutes. With selections from the tenor’s 2016 Dolce Vita recording, plus arias and duets from various red sauce operas, it’s an unabashedly feel-good release. Featuring the splendid mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili, this program of mostly Italian standards is dispatched with style, intelligence and conviction. Even the most sceptical of listeners will find something to enjoy.
First up is Cielo e mar from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, performed with Kaufmann’s usual feeling for line. Though slightly throaty, the tenor makes up for it with his trademark vocal control and gorgeous sound. It’s followed by the duet from Cavalleria Rusticana, with Rachvelishvili a compelling partner. They deliver powerhouse vocals, Kaufmann nailing Turiddu’s competing feelings of remorse and selfish desire and Rachvelishvili a desperate but powerful Santuzza. He’s equally effective in Mamma, quel vino è generoso.
He brings the same passion to perennial songs Torna a Surriento and Con te partiró, balanced with a sincerity that prevents them from descending into pure schmaltz. Parlami d’amore, Mariù is winning and sexy, while Un amore così grande and Musica proibita are done with generous Italianate feeling. Volare, which sees Kaufmann at his most seductive and Rachvelishvili wielding her formidable chest voice like no tomorrow, is pure camp. Just surrender to it.
Composer: Ponchielli, Mascagni
Composition: Songs and arias
Performer: Jonas Kaufmann, Anita Rachvelishvili, Jochen Rieder
Catalogue Number: SONY 19075879332