/Jonas Kaufmann: Under The Stars (2018)

Jonas Kaufmann: Under The Stars (2018)


I frequent the Putney Odeon because of their luxurious seats and accessible location, however, Thursday night was a special occasion. I was there for Jonas Kaufmann’s Under The Stars showing, provided by Cinema Live. The event marked the successes of Kaufmann’s popular album Dolce Vita, which was released in late 2016. Sadly, after scrolling far and wide online, I couldn’t find the precise date the outdoor concert took place at Berlin’s iconic Waldbuhne amphitheatre.

That said, even though the event wasn’t screened live, it was just as eventful and enjoyable for fans of Kaufmann and his superb playlist of Italian love songs. With no host in sight to introduce each song, this meant direct cuts and edits were left to highlight each song, one after the other, with simple captions of each one. The advantage was viewers got exactly what they wanted: strong musical performances from Kaufmann, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Jochen Rieder and a ‘special guest’ – mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili.

Personally, it would have been kinder to mention that Rachvelishvili was performing alongside the German tenor as she, too, is a respected opera singer with her own following of global fans. I felt that marketing failed in this case. Did the cinema marketing team believe that Rachvelishvili’s presence would overshadow Kaufmann’s? I think not. Her reputation in the opera world is only getting greater. She deserved the extra credit for her gorgeous singing and powerful performance that evening.

It’s hard to pinpoint a favourite moment or performance from Under The Stars. The beginning began dramatically with arias from Cavalleria rusticana: the Italian opera filled with sadness, pathos and sorrow. It certainly caused a heartrending tremble from the audience, both at the cinema and those sitting at the Berlin Waldbuhne as we saw. Yet proving Kaufmann and Rachvelishvili’s vocal conviction wasn’t necessary here. Opera fans know they are supremely knowledgeable and triumphant at singing emotionally tense pieces at each turn of tune or note, but everyone was there for Dolce Vita – a night of love, romance and intimate music, and this is what they received, eventually, after the first four songs. (No Strauss involved, thank you.)

Watching with my friend at the Putney Odeon, who also enjoys listening to classic Italian songs, we were lucky enough to know the libretto and, even, quietly sang-along. Obviously, I wouldn’t encourage doing this for a live concert in the same hall as the performer, but this was a fun cinema experience. There were no surtitles to follow along to, but it didn’t matter. At the interval, the audience looked at each other with smiles on their faces. At one point, a woman turned to us and said ‘that was just wonderful!’ The cinema audience had a great time and so did we.

The evening ended with many humming and singing ‘Volare’ as they exited the cinema, which was playfully and joyfully sung by Rachvelishvili and Kaufmann. They were both on top form from start to finish. Jonas concluded Under The Stars by singing ‘Nessun Dorma’, which was a promising way to end a warm evening in Italy, or so it felt that way.

Jonas Kaufmann: Under The Stars is a Cinema Live event. For more information on Cinema Live event, click here. Cinema Live’s next opera event is La Bohéme on Sydney Habour, showing on September 13. Go here for more information.

I was provided a press ticket to review the show.