It was approximately 7:30am PST on February 5th 2016 that I first heard the voice of Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. The means: an innocent-looking facebook link to their Pearl Fishers duet from a concert (“Hvorostovsky and Friends”) in Moscow of 2008.
I had not followed opera ~ except for perhaps one or two Bryn Terfel productions on dvd ~ since I was a little girl with a crush on Samuel Ramey. However, having grown up with the marvelous Zeffirelli production of Turandot with Placido Domingo, my family and I had finally taken advantage the previous evening of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD cinema showings ~ this time, the Met’s most recent Zeffirelli-based production of Turandot. Swedish soprano Nina Stemme was phenomenal as the lead, and the set was glorious to behold.
As we were underwhelmed by the Calaf, however, Debra (my marvelous mom) went on a search for current tenors ~ again, we had not been following opera ~ and came across the wonder-tenor Jonas Kaufmann. (Had we been under a rock all these years…?)
Never would we have imagined that any tenor after Domingo would have a voice of a similar quality. Mr Kaufmann’s is reminiscent of his, yet altogether unique; his has a darker texture than that of most tenors. Emotional, rich, “veiled”–as I have heard it described. Sublime. (But, truthfully, I don’t think the perfect word has yet been invented.)
And glorious Dmitri Hvorostovsky? A heart-stoppingly beautiful baritone, whose presence and power are unmatched, and who brings emotional richness and captivating charm to every role. Dima, we love you!
Little did Debra know what she would start with the innocent sharing of a link to a duet.
Since that time (about a month and a half later, as I record this), I’ve managed to see filmed or YouTube versions of operas such as Don Carlo (oh, have I fallen for Verdi, or what!), La Fanciulla del West, Il Trovatore, La Forza del Destino, Andrea Chénier, Manon Lescaut, Tosca, and Werther; I’ve seen Mr Kaufmann’s glorious An Evening with Puccini in the local cinema; and have discovered innumerable arias and lieder that have brought joy and light into a busy little life.
In a world filled with tragedy and loss, it is a great gift to find joy in the Beauty of something so well done, and so passionately. I thought of scribbling my thoughts here, as I continue to journey into this wonderful world, even if no one else were to read them.
But one of the best joys is discovering other opera fans and friends! I’m learning more by the day, and love sharing the love right back.
I figure: if one who has little to no means to spend on travel and expensive opera tickets and no formal musical knowledge or training, nor a facility for languages other than my own, can appreciate the great gift that opera is…well, anyone can. (And should, if possible!)
Jonas, Dmitri, and all of these great artists have opened ~ to this family, at least ~ the wide landscape of opera.
Oh, what have we been missing all these years?
A humble “thank you” to all artists who bring light and beauty into our lives.
5 thoughts on “The beginning of an obsession: The Pearl Fishers duet”
Rachel? Are you the seamstress? I am not sure how I can normally get on to your blog as Nola put it on Facebook.
Well, welcome to the world of Jonas Kaufmann admirers💝🎶. My personal obsession started on March 2 3013 when I saw him in the Met HD cinecast of Parsifal and life has significantly changed for the better ever since !
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Gloria, thank you so much!!! JK friends are so generous & kind…thank you ♡ as to normally getting on the blog, you could put in an email if you want to be notified of new posts (the spot is over on the righthand sidebar of the website…)
How wonderful that your own love started with Parsifal!! That is one of the next ones I want to see ~ and you got to see it in the cinema too! How wonderful. I wonder how many lives our tenor has changed? What a gift ♡♡♡
I am also a fan of Kaufman and Hvorostovsky, until hearing their Pearl Fishers duet, I thought the ultimate recording of this duet was by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill. You could listen to this one on UTube I expect. I have been mad about opera for about 80 years, starting very young, with an obsession for Amelita Galli- Curci,. a fantistic colorature soprano in the early 1900’s. Dmitri is the greatest baritone of the present day, though very sadly he died a few years ago, a tragic loss to us all. Another one my late husband and I loved was Giorgio Zancanaro, listen to his “Il balen de suo sorriso” from Trovatore – quite gorgeous.
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Thank you so much for sharing your opera experience, Amanda!!! I agree, the loss of Dima is one of the great losses in the world of music, and so heartbreaking…he was so young, strong, talented. 💔 Thank you for the recommendation to listen to Giorgio Zancanaro! I have not yet heard him, to my knowledge!! I will look him up!