Don't miss: Kaufmann at the moviesReview
As part of its Music at the Movies series, Cineplex is presenting Jonas Kaufmann: My Italy, a concert documentary by Andy Sommers featuring the famed tenor. The doc plays on July 26, 2017 at select theatres across Canada, and you can find showtimes here.
Kaufmann, in a terribly cute red convertible and colourful shoes, takes a tour along the Italian coastlines. The German tenor tells stories of his childhood visits to Italy with his family, and connects his life in opera - Italian and otherwise - with the culture and lifestyle he grew to love. The wistful memories and genuine appreciation for all things Italian are given a breathtaking backdrop, as Kaufmann hops from one stunning coastal city to another.
Of course, Kaufmann sings, too. The film includes footage from two concerts, the first in Turin’s Teatro Carignano, and the second in Milan with the Filarmonica della Scala. The Teatro Carignano is intimate and old-world, and Kaufmann fills the hall with Italian staples like Mattinata (Leoncavallo), Volare (Domenico Modugno), Caruso (Lucio Dalla), and Musica proibita (Stanislao Gastaldon).
Kaufmann makes no empty claims of a strong understanding of Italian culture and music. There’s ease and improvisation about his singing, and it’s mixed with the rich darkness in his voice that serves as a dash of foreign spice (German, in this case) to an already delicious dish. You can’t help but smile at the well-timed shots of audience members - often women - with mouths agape at the charismatic Kaufmann.
The last portion of the film is made up of footage from his Milan concert, an all-Puccini programme also seen in 2016’s concert documentary, Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening with Puccini. Combined with the Turin programme, it could be easy to deem My Italy full of cheese, even a shallow picture of Italian music. Yet in the context of Kaufmann’s larger career, which includes heavy work like Siegmund, Otello, and recordings of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, it seems obvious that there’s room for some Italian sorbet.
Our only lament: that the audio of Kaufmann’s concerts didn’t seem to match the sense of live performance of the film. It didn’t feel bluntly dubbed, exactly, yet lovers of live music may have to forgive the audio mastering likely necessary for a project like this one.