Saturday, March 29, 2014

Here and Back Again in NYC - Day 8 - Jonas Kaufmann at Carnegie Hall

Hey everyone!

So Day 8 of my New York City journey was pretty cool. As always me and my mum spent our day shopping and eating. We went to Eataly which is this huge Italian food place that works as a market as well as a restaurant. We waited in line for about 40 minutes for a table at the pasta section and when it came to it the prices were high and the portions were little. I was very disappointed although the pasta was really good I left the restaurant hungry.

But no matter because Jamie texted me and before I knew it I was in Washington Square Park meeting her and Mike! We had a lovely 30 minute chat and then she had to leave. I walked with Mike to the subway station and said yet another heartfelt goodbye. Then I rushed back to the Park where my mum was waiting for me. We got a cab and it was dark before we knew it.

We went back to the hotel to get ready for Jonas Kaufmann’s big debut at Carnegie Hall with pianist Helmut Deutsch. Needless to say that we were late and running down the icy streets of NYC in heels and holding extra hot lattes, I do love this life though! I did not, however, love having to go up ALL those stairs in heels and running because the recital was just about to begin. We got to our seats in the balcony and they were really steep and scary and there was barely any leg room which made us extremely uncomfortable. I was pretty pumped about this recital but the people were all so serious, it was very weird and my mum had THE GRUMPIEST man sitting next to her.

view from my seat

I didn’t have much time to complain because in a moment there he was, my prince charming in the flesh, Jonas Kaufmann! Although I have to admit I did not know any of the songs he sang! There I’ve said it, it’s the truth and it’s better than just pretending I know what I’m talking about because I don’t. I’m an opera fan and I know a lot about opera and musicals and a little about Faure chanson for feminine voices, but I do not know these lieder.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a blast of a good time. Because Carnegie Hall does give you the lyrics and the translations so you can follow, so at least I knew what he was singing about. And come on, Jonas is one of the most captivating performers I’ve ever seen, he can steal your heart away with one well placed note. It was impossible for me not to have a wonderful time. Because seriously, hearing him in a recording is already so great but there is nothing that can compare to having that glorious sound waltz its way into your body and soul. His voice is like dark butter melting, I don’t even know if that makes sense, but it’s not like melting chocolate. Ah man, I’m letting my feelings get the best of this post! Bottom line people, GO HEAR JONAS KAUFMANN LIVE! Go, just go!

Well first he did a selection of four songs from a Schumann cycle called Zwölf Gedichte (Twelve Poems, Op. 35). They were Lust der Sturmnacht (The Wild Night’s Joy); Erstes Grün (First Green); Wanderung (Wandering); Stille Tränen (Silent Tears). These are basically about what every good lied is about, nature and love and being in love while outside. But what I liked is all the different colors he brought to the table for each and every song he sang. He had a character for every single one of them. You could feel almost everyone was hooked (I say almost everyone because there’s always that old person who sleeps no matter how fantastic the event is) and that was quite obvious at the end of the cycle.

Then he did an entire Schumann cycle called Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love, Op. 48). They were all so lovely and Jonas has this ability to just transport you to wherever he wants with his voice. It was quite amazing. I say voice because I was quite far away I couldn’t really see him very well but all he needed to do was open his mouth and the walls felt like they were gonna crumble down. He had quite an ovation after that cycle was done and came back two or three times to take a bow together with the pianist to quite a thunderous ovation.

Time for intermission and my mom wasn’t feeling well at all so she left. I didn’t even get out of my seat, I just stayed there in awe of what I had just witnessed. And although I really liked the first part, the second was SO MUCH BETTER!

I don’t know if it was my taste or the fact that the audience just seemed to have warmed up much more for the second half but it was incredible. First he sang a Wagner song cycle called Wesendonck Lieder (Wesendonck Songs, Op. 91). And I don’t know if I’m more accustomed to the Wagner language as opposed to the Schumann one but I felt he sang those Wagner lieder much better. A very special highlight to the second song called Stehe still! (Stand still!) because I folded the end of its page in my program which means I probably really liked it. And now that I come to think of it, it was quite powerful and I remember having my head in the clouds.

But my favorite bit was without a doubt the Franz Liszt songs. He did change the order of the songs for some mysterious reason but I wasn’t complaining. These 3 song were all in Italian and had a much more operatic feel to them. I remember quite clearly as he finished the first one it was SO GOOD that you could feel the people ALMOST clapping and some people were so enticed that they actually started screaming “BRAVO”. To that both Jonas and the entire audience laughed. When he sang his second song it was just as beautiful and operatic and it had one of those high tenor notes at the end that SERIOUSLY had ALL the human beings who feel attracted to man sigh. I know I did, I sighed all through it like my 13 year old self sighing at the sight of Legolas.

The third and final song from the Tre sonetti di Petrarca cycle was just the cherry on top of the most heart racing performances I’d ever seen. People went NUTS when he finished! The clapping just would not stop and it was heaven. It totally felt like finally all those rules and conventions had crumbled down and he was just this great guy singing to a bunch of happy, happy people. I must admit, I screamed my head out! And specially because the lady sitting right in front of me had her hands over her ears and was looking viciously at everybody who would scream (she should get to know the grumpy guy who was sitting next to my mum, they are perfect for each other). And you know me, I don’t like people trying to reprimand me, so I took extra careful and powerful breaths so I could scream as loudly as I could without hurting my voice 1- because Jonas totally deserved it and 2- because she pissed me off. I would also clap really hard with my hands extra close to her head, yeah, I can be mean too!

Jonas was over the moon and smiling and thanking everyone it was wonderful, but after he came back for 3 bows it was time for our encores. I must say that one thing that kinda disappointed me was the fact that he didn’t sing any operatic arias in his encores, but you can never have it all. First he sang R. Strauss’ Breit über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar and the moment he finished was overwhelmed by applause and screaming and some WE LOVE YOU JONAS, which you would like proper at Comic Con not Carnegie Hall but I just thought it was insanely cool.

Then he proceeded to sing 3 more Strauss songs Heimliche Aufforderung, Freundliche Vision and Cäcilie. And seriously, that was so much fun, because during the applause Jonas and the pianist would come out numerous times to take a bow and after the third encore we were really just clapping and screaming and freaking out because we appreciated his work. But then every time the pianist would come back holding sheet music I felt like that building was gonna come down. People were hysterical, I am not kidding, it was insane! I was hysterical too, it was just so amazing and he was so comfortable there singing to us and the responses were so powerful, it was really incredible.

Before the last Strauss song, which was the fourth encore, he addressed the audience and thanked everybody for that wonderful warm welcome. During his speech people would start screaming and someone screamed “THANK YOU JONAS” which resulted in more hysteria. I seriously felt like I was in Comic Con when they do actor’s panel of a beloved TV show or movie. Even Jonas was very surprised with this enthusiasm because as I wrote a couple of posts ago the reception for Werther was really amazing and very loud but this one was like twice even 3 times more noisy and warm.

He also said that he was singing so many songs by Strauss in the encores because he really did not want to leave him out of this program and that now we should stop celebrating so much Verdi and Wagner for their centenary and bicentenary birthdays and turn to the birthday boy of the year, Strauss. The audience laughed and then he proceeded to sing one more song this time by Schumann called Mondnacht. This was already too good to be true, 5 encores? The people were going insane and one very cool thing I noticed was that a very small number of people left during the encores. Because normally we know how this works, right? But everyone was so enticed and Jonas was so pumped it felt like he was never gonna stop!

Finally he sang his last encore Lehar’s Gern hab ich die Frau’n geküßt. If you saw me you looking at him sing you would think 1 – this girl is gonna fall from her seat right to her death because she’s leaning forward too much 2 – is she in love? I had my hands holding my chin and sighed all the time feeling like the only person in the room and the luckiest person in the world. Because even though the audience was making a lot of noise as soon as the pianist started to play there would be literally dead silence.

When he was bowing for the last encore he did a “that’s enough” hand sign and everyone laughed and clapped and clapped and clapped! I don’t think I ever clapped and screamed so much in my entire life! While gathering my stuff I got to meet a really cool guy who was sitting right behind me who also happened to be a singer. We talked enthusiastically about the concert until the people from Carnegie Hall kicked us out and then we walked together on the street for a while chatting about music and all sorts of thing. Then we headed our separate ways.

But that’s one of the reasons why I love NYC. The people there are just so COOL, all the people I’ve met at the opera house were absolutely incredible, and they were truly really nice.

I guess that’s it for today guys! Hope you enjoyed this post and please leave a comment telling me what you think! Cheers!

PS; All these beautiful up close pictures were taken by my friend Felipe Cunha, thanks honey!

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