Jonas Kaufmann was born in Munich, Germany, in 1969. As a child he was frequently taken to the opera by his father, while he sang in boys' choirs and took piano lessons. Later he enrolled at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, where he took master classes from Hans Hotter, Josef Metternich, and James King. It was Hotter who interested Kaufmann in the lieder of Richard Strauss.
From 1994-1996 Kaufmann sang at the opera house in Saarbrücken. Since the mid-1990s he has made regular guest appearances at the world's major opera houses. In 2001 he joined the Zurich opera and has since received high praise there for his Mozart (Idomeneo, Titus, Tamino), Gounod (Faust) and Verdi (the Duke). Kaufmann's first major recordings began appearing around the turn of the century, with Loewe's The Three Wishes (2000) and Marschner's Vampyr (2002). His debut recital at Wigmore Hall in London in December 2002 was a great success, as was his debut at the Met in February 2006 in the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. Kaufmann's recordings have appeared with increasing frequency in the new century. The 2008 Decca
CD Romantic Arias, which includes arias from Tosca, La bohème, La Traviata, and other operatic standards, was his first solo recording. His 2013 Verdi Album and 2014 You Mean the World to Me topped both pop and classical charts in Germany and Austria.