Drawing: Jonas Kaufmann

Autographed drawing of tenor Jonas Kaufman

German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann has established himself among the greats. The New York Times described him “as the important tenor of his generation.” The Discover Music website wrote, “Combining the holy trinity of brooding good looks, charismatic stage presence and a powerful and versatile voice.” Jonas began his professional career at Staatstheatre Saarbrucken in 1994. Since then has played all the major operatic roles at all the major venues including his debut at the Royal Opera House in London in 2006-2007 as Don Jose in Bizet’s CARMEN to critical acclaim.

Jonas returned to Covent Garden earlier this year in the Royal Opera’s new production of Beethoven’s only opera FIDELIO as the political prisoner Florestan. In his five star review for The Stage, George Hall wrote, “An announcement excuses Kaufmann for being under the weather, but for his thrilling crescendo on his very first note onwards he is outstanding.” Due to the coronavirus pandemic the run closed in mid March, but Jonas kindly signed my drawing before he left.

Drawing: Katherine Jenkins

Katherine Jenkins Buskin001

Welsh songbird Katherine Jenkins did a bit of tube busking in November 2011. The mezzo-soprano is more used to performing in front of thousands in some of the World’s major stages.

A 45 minute stint at Leicester Square station for London commuters yielded £16 for a homeless charity, going undercover with a ‘make-under”, hiding her trademark blonde locks behind a scruffy brunette wig and casual clothes. But her distinctive vocal fooled few.

Katherine’s classical crossover style, including operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre and hymns has won her two Classical Brit Album of the Year Awards.

After performing with the legendary Dame Vera Lynn at the 60th VE Day Anniversary concert in 2005, the WWII ‘forces sweetheart’ said Katherine should consider performing for the British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She did just that. Her helicopter was targeted by missiles, but she eventually landed safely when anti-missile flares were deployed.

She came second in the US Dancing with the Stars and this year ran the London marathon in 5 hours 26 minutes, raising £25,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of her father. Katherine also performed at a fundraiser in October 2011 to help relief efforts after the devastation caused by the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

She signed my ‘busking’ sketch at her London office in Chiswick Lane, a couple of days after her underground debut. An earlier portrait was signed in the mid 2000s through the mail.

Katherine Jenkins001

Drawing: Randy Newman

Randy Newman001‘Short People’ was a surprise and controversial hit in 1977 for Randall Stuart ‘Randy’ Newman and one of my favourite tunes-a kind of an anthem for us vertically-challenged types. Randy always maintains it was written as a joke, like a number of his satirical pop songs. He has also produced numerous film scores and has the dubious distinction of having the most Academy Award nominations (15) without a single win. In 2002, when he eventually picked up the Best Original Song Oscar for ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ from MONSTERS INC,he received a standing ovation. He reacted with the opening joke to his acceptance speech, “I don’t need your pity.” He did beat an impressive line-up: Sting, Enya and Sir Paul McCartney. He picked up his second Oscar after his 20th nomination in 2011 for ‘We Belong Together’ from TOY STORY 3 and quipped, “My percentages aren’t great.” He does have a way to go to match his uncle, Alfred Newman,the dean of Hollywood composers. He was nominated 54 times for nine wins,including one for THE KING AND I in 1956. Randy has also won a handful of Emmys and Grammys and was inducted into the Rock-And -Roll Hall of Fame in April this year.

In February 2012 Randy played London’s Royal Festival Hall, but I missed meeting him to have my sketch signed in person, so sent it to the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam, where he had a gig on 12 March. Sending items to venues is always a hit-and-miss affair,but I have a high success rate with the Dutch and they continued that trend.