Defining the happy malady known as “Kaufmannia”

Fellow devotees of our tenor might have experienced a certain exhilaration this past Saturday, April 16th, if they were able to witness the live stream of Tosca from the Vienna Staatsoper, 7:30pm Vienna time. (10:30am Oregon time!) Though of course a different production from the brilliant 2011 production of the Royal Opera House that I wrote of previously, the Vienna production had the same three phenomenal artists in the lead roles: Bryn Terfel as Scarpia, Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi, and Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca.

What a privilege, from so many miles away, to weep over witnessing our tenor in real time, bewildered by the historically rare chanting and pounding of the audience for so long after the aria “E lucevan le stelle” in Act III–literally, show-stopping length–that he and the conductor finally relented, and the aria was performed again. Even more beautifully than the first time. I think many of us were soaring the rest of the weekend…

The same (extremely unusual) phenomenon had apparently happened at the premiere, after which there were whispers about the frustrated comments made by Ms. Gheorghiu about the repetition of the aria. Thus, a moment of operatic melodrama ensued on the night of the 16th, wherein our tenor is left without Tosca who (by speculation, deliberately) missed the cue to enter after “E lucevan,” leaving her Mario stranded and stunned on the rooftop of the Castel Saint’Angelo, where he awaits execution. The orchestra kept playing…Mario desolate and confused…no soprano! Finally, the orchestra stopped, and Mr. Kaufmann, with characteristic good humor and self-effacement, sung a little line about the lack of the soprano, and speaking directly to the audience, delicately apologized by indicating that he was as confused as they were. He had the audience utterly in his pocket…a moment of endearment.

Finally, the soprano entered and all was resumed as if nothing had happened.

Needless to say, concentration on my sewing deadlines suffered greatly this weekend–as did all hope of good sleep, in my excitement–so that all I have a head for at the close of this week (besides our tenor) is whimsical speculation about this mysterious “malady” which has been referred to as “Kaufmannia.” Why not attempt to begin defining it? It may not be in the DSM-V, but after all of the symptoms so many of us have experienced this weekend, perhaps it should be…

So, I shall save writing all more meaningful commentary until a time when deadlines are passed and a regular sleep pattern resumed. Until then, a little silliness. Enjoy, and thank you for putting up with your absent-minded seamstress…

Definition: “Kaufmannia*
*subject to change as this condition becomes more fully explored

Kaufmannia is a condition wherein the victim becomes paralyzed with delight leading to transcendent obsession brought on by exposure to the voice of Jonas Kaufmann.

In its mildest form, Kaufmannia may exhibit symptoms of unexpected weeping and temporary mania-like experiences. These feelings may marginally decrease if one avoids listening to Jonas for a prolonged period. Though abstaining from listening may be an effective short-term remedy (e.g. to promote concentration on an immediate work or study project), it is rarely practical, and includes long-term side-effects such as depression and loss of interest in life.

In its most extreme form–Kaufmannia Extremis–prolonged periods of transcendence may ensue, resulting in any or all of the following: sleeplessness, heart palpitations, shortness-of-breath, obsessive thinking, profound and sudden interest in the beauty of life, continually stopping to smell the roses, uncontrollable weeping, feelings of living in an alternate (and more beautiful) reality, opera obsession, phantom music playing in one’s ear, a tendency to hum or sing in languages one doesn’t understand, addictive tendencies, recurring dreams, inability to survive for long periods without “a dose of Jonas,” a mania to see live performances, increased tenderness and love for all creatures, increased pity (whether well-founded or delusional) for those who are not (yet) Kaufmanniacs, incessant desire to infect others with this illness for the good of humanity, and hopeless romanticism. Potentially negative side-effects include: inability to concentrate on humdrum realities of life (e.g. earning a living so that one can purchase more opera DVDs, CDs, etc), the anxious concern exhibited by friends (who have secretly been looking into the cost for padded rooms), and diminished bank account balances due to excessive opera-related purchases.

Kaufmannia is generally known to be terminal, without any known cure. In fact, studies show that those in Kaufmannia Extremis desire no cure, presumably due to the euphoric state of enhanced psycho-spiritual awareness and well-being experienced by the “sufferer.” Thus, there is currently no funding for research towards a remedy.

Highly contagious.

–from the “Other” Diagnostic & Statistical Manual-5 3/4

8 thoughts on “Defining the happy malady known as “Kaufmannia”

  1. Oh, Frabjous Joy! A haven to talk about our wonderful Mann. No unkind reviewers or demented trolls, just Jonas maniacs. I discovered him by accident 6 years ago when a friend gave me a ticket to his first Met Tosca. I had no idea who he was but the sold out Met audience was excited. I found out why the minute he strolled on stage. Tall, dark and handsome with black curly hair and the brooding looks of a young Mr. Rochester. A Gothic hero in the flesh….and then he started singing! The diva was Patricia Raccette and the Scarpia was that big teddy bear of a man, Bryn Terfel. What a night and what a performance from this brilliant trio. I was lucky enough to get a standing room ticket for his final Carmen, a smouldering account that I have never forgotten. It obliterated any previous Don Jose!
    I have attended most of his Met performances. loved his Siegmund and looking forward to his concert dates of the same role. I can only imagine his growth in the role after 6 years. Did not like the Met Faust and apparently neither did he. His Parsifal was divine and that opera, cast and production were transcendant! His Werther…Ah…his Werther ….sigh. Disappointment does not begin to describe the cancellations these past two seasons and his non-appearance next season. But…..just between us. I hear that he is scheduled for a new Tosca with Netrebko/ Opolais for the Met 2017/2018 season. Anyway we can hope. I envy those of you in Europe who get to see him somewhere in Europe every year. Lucky you!
    Thankyou for letting me discuss this wonderful artist!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary-Kate…wow! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful experiences of our tenor…I love the comparison to a Gothic hero, e.g. Mr Rochester! 😁

    Your first experience sounds like it is a moment never to be forgotten…

    I hope with all my heart you’re right about a Met Tosca in the coming years!! Maybe THAT will have to be my goal for a first live performance (might be more realistic than another goal I have, but which I’m still holding onto…vague rumors about a French language Don Carlos in Paris around that time…). I seriously need to try to save up for a whole Jonas month and see as many as I can. (Ok, I’m in Dreamland again…)


    1. Dear Rachel Anne, thank-you for the warm welcome. To quote another famous Anne, we Jonas admirers are true kindred spirits! I would like to recommend the wonderful 2010 dvd of Humperdinck’s, “Konigskinder” with Der Jonas and Isabel Rey. If you have already discussed this on the forum forgive my blathering. He plays a Kings son who meets a beautiful Goosegirl in the woods and they fall desperately in love. I dont want to spoil anything, but he is heaven and “…the fairy-tale prince of most opera-goers dreams”. He looks scrumptious and is just wonderful in the role, as is Ms Rey.
      I am so impressed with your sewing, especially the vestments. That must be painstaking intricate work. When I attempt to change a hem it ends up lumpy, uneven and dotted with tiny bloodstains where I have pricked my fingertips. A child could do better.;-)
      Thankyou and good-night!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dear what an eloquent rendition of this very wanted obsession! I am 60 year young grandma, and I discover him in Pbs Werther performance, I was transfixed, could not move, my husband was laughing at me and at the same time absorbing every note he was singing! Been obsessed since then, we had plan to go to the Met, but sad when he had to cancel, hope to see him soon in North America, we live in Montreal, maybe that is a chance he will come here!! It is a pleasure to be able to read obout other people having the same passion!! How r your exams coming along? I wish the best and continue posting beautiful writing obout our Gothic Hero! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Sina ~ beautiful memory!! After I was struck (it is rather like lightning, isn’t it?) by the Pearl Fishers duet (my introduction to our Gothic hero), Werther was the first opera I watched with him!! It was the Paris 2010 version…I still have yet to see the Met version which I think is available recorded also…

      Studies and work are coming along… the time in the workshop goes by much more quickly with our tenor in my ear a good part of the time! 😀

      Hugs from Oregon, fellow Kaufmanniac!!


      1. How r you my dear?the studies going well?how is Oregon weather? Here in Canada still cold!thank God for JK music making the days more sunny!the Met version of Werther is not yet available, I called the Met ,clientele service, they don’t know when it’s going to be available. So we will wacht the Paris ,again,just ordered Andrea Chenier,hope to get it soon ,I will post my reaction,sure it will be amazing!Continue your nice work with our beloved Hero in your ears! Love from Montreal!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Having watched that infamous Tosca, I have to say his pianissimi are out of this world. That encore was very deserved 😀
    Also – what a Werther! The role really suits him perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

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