2019-03-01_03 featured press

Concerti – “Old singer, young conductor” – Translation to English

2019-03, Concerti, by Christoph Schmidt

“Yet another life goal of mine for many years has been to become a conductor. In three or four years, I am going to conduct my very first Baroque opera – something I am really happy about. That means, I am going to be a singer and a conductor at the same time. At first, both activities will mix, and by and by, I want to sing less and less in favor of expanding my time at the baton. I want to take more responsibility for my musical message.”

Translation to English
This is a fan translation; no infringement of copyright is intended. We believe it fulfills the criteria for “fair use,” discussion and study. Translation by *L

Interview Philippe Jaroussky

“Old singer, young conductor”

Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky has just released a project very close to his heart, is at the zenith of his career – and already has the next goal in mind.

By Christoph Schmidt, March 21, 2019

It doesn’t occur very often, that an asteroid is named after an opera singer. After numerous international awards, Frenchman Philippe Jaroussky also accomplished this one.

At the height of his career, the 41-year-old is also thinking about radically changing his musical career. All while the 41-year-old, on the peak of his career, is thinking about radically changing the course of his career.

At the beginning of the new year, you wanted to take a sabbatical. What do you do, if you do not sing?

Philippe Jaroussky: I stopped singing just before Christmas, with my next concerts being in March. However, I still had plenty to do and prepare: I needed to think about future projects and make decisions; I had to look after my academy, and last but not least, I had to put some thought into the upcoming programs in the near future. It’s nice to do these things in such a relaxed way because it allows you to focus. While on tour, I don’t find any peace for that kind of thing. Sometimes it’s just good not to sing, even though that’s my passion, because a break allows you to take a look at yourself from the outside and imagine what it would be like not to sing.

How often do you take such a break?

Jaroussky: It’s only my second time. It helps me to relax the voice and refresh the technique. Afterwards, I enjoy making music again all the more and, hopefully, I can pass on this joy even better to the audience. As soon as I start practising again during my morning shower, I realize: I’m ready to start again!

Do you also practice your baritone or exclusively the head voice?

Jaroussky: When I started, my singing teacher trained both registers because the baritone is closer to my speaking voice. It can be very useful to understand the mechanisms of the voice in this natural range in order to apply what you discovered to the countertenor voice. Since I’m not a tenor, the lower range of the countertenor voice are not exactly my specialty; it’s something I am working on continuously. Because on stage, for an opera, you also need the chest voice – and there, you only have one shot at an aria. When you’re recording a CD, it’s altogether different, and I end up doing nothing but singing for seven or eight hours a day; in a sense, it’s an entirely different job.

Almost every year, you release a new album. However, the death of the medium of the Studio CD has been foretold. How do you manage to help keeping it alive?

Jaroussky: My record label and I sometimes say we really should slow down. My last solo album was released in November 2017; in between, I have also been present on other recording. Fortunately, there is still a multitude of projects. Needless to say, as a singer, you want to record the most in the phase of your life when you feel in top shape. After all, I don’t know how long I am still able to record CDs.

Your new album, “Ombra mai fu,” quotes an aria from Francesco Cavalli’s opera Xerxes, which became famous by Handel. Who do you think is the better composer?

Jaroussky: Of course Handel’s “Serse” is the best version. Also, for the majority of audiences, Monteverdi is certainly more famous than Cavalli is. However, I chose the title to provoke a little – because, after all, the first version of this aria is the one by Cavalli! That makes you curious. It’s interesting that, for example, the first violins are not playing colla parte with the soloist, but higher. That’s ingenious and has its own charm.

Which other qualities do you perceive in Cavalli?

Jaroussky: I discovered him right at the beginning of my career, when I was in my early twenties. Even then, I was beguiled by the charm of this music;  he has a distinctive personal style. It’s no wonder that currently, almost all of his operas are being performed. On the CD, I wanted to create a digest of the best arias and duets from all his operas, also to show the variety of his composing – from lamenti to extremely comical scenes. Even during his lifetime, his music was very popular. It is much simpler than Händel’s, and more fragile. Cavalli was writing very fast, and sometimes, he only notated the voice, and the bass line. Who, when, with whom, and with which instruments is actually playing together often remains for the musician to decide. Solely the instrumentation turns it into kind of a new creation. When it comes to Händel, most is fixed. That’s why I love early Baroque music so much – because it educates you in imagining the right sound, and prompts you to interpret the libretto.

You are considered a specialist in the field of Early Music. Are you also interested in contemporary repertoire?

Jaroussky: Of course; I have often had the opportunity to sing new pieces, because the countertenor has actually evolved into a modern voice type once more. My next CD project is going to include contemporary music, only with piano accompaniment, but it’s too early to talk about it.

You are now 41, have won numerous classical prizes and are performing all over the world. What ambitions, goals and challenges could someone like you still have?

Jaroussky: When you’re young, you have a lot of dreams. At the time, I never dared to hope I would sing at La Scala one day. You’re right; I’ve achieved much more than I thought. But more important is that you can choose what and with whom you sing. The audience is very grateful, and I would like to experience these moments more intensely, just because I do not know how much longer I can enjoy them.

Sounds a little hedonistic.

Jaroussky: That may be true, but if you want to sing, actually enjoying it is paramount. Yet another life goal of mine for many years has been to become a conductor. In three or four years, I am going to conduct my very first Baroque opera – something I am really happy about. That means, I am going to be a singer and a conductor at the same time. At first, both activities will mix, and by and by, I want to sing less and less in favor of expanding my time at the baton. I want to take more responsibility for my musical message.

Does that also give rise to your motivation for your music academy that you founded for children and young adults?

Jaroussky: I come from a family that was completely unmusical. My teachers told my parents to make music – so I started the violin. That changed my life. Twenty years later, I now have the chance to influence the lives of other children, positively, if I can. I was often asked if I thought that more should be done for musical education. I always agreed, but never actually did anything towards that ideal. I try to make up for this lack now at least with fifty students per year. And they don’t have to pay a cent for it.

Is that your kind of work-life balance?

Philippe Jaroussky: You can learn something from this for yourself! When you teach, you are forced to organize your thoughts, to express opinions, to sing something to the students. Some impulses also come from the pupils and students themselves. This shapes and enriches their own music-making immensely. And last but not least, it is a tremendous pleasure to be a teacher!

See Philippe Jaroussky’s “Ombra mai fu” from his eponymous album:

Album Tip

Ombra mai fu – Arien von Cavalli

Philippe Jaroussky (Countertenor), Emoke Barath (Sopran), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alt), Ensemble Artaserse

Erato

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2018-01-11 featured press

concerti – Die offiziellen Top 20 Klassik-Charts im Januar 2018

2018-01-11, concerti, by n. N.

5. Philippe Jaroussky
The Händel Album
Erato

Auf seinem ersten vollständigen Händel-Album zeigt Jaroussky
eindrucks- und gefühlvoll den immensen Facettenreichtum
der Musik des großen Barockmeisters auf. […]

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2017-11-02 featured press

concerti – Berührender Händel

2017-11-02, concerti, by Eckhard Weber

Sehr berührend, wirkliches Opernglück! […]

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2017-10-19 featured press

concerti – “I belong to the Generation Concept Album” – Translation to English

2017-10-19, concerti, by Maximilian Theiss

” Ich möchte mit meiner Rolle überraschen und dem Publikum etwas bieten, was es so noch nicht gehört hat. Das macht schließlich die Oper so spannend.”

*This is a fan translation. If you have any problems with this being online, just drop us a line and we’ll remove it immediately. Translation by Lankin*

Interview with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky

“I belong to the Generation Concept Album”

Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky about the allure of recitatives, directors as puppeteers  – and his academy

By Maximilian Theiss, 19 October 2017

Even if in his late 30’s, Philippe Jaroussky is most likely closer to the start of his career than the end of it, a glance at his discography reveals a plethora of recordings. This considered, it was wonderfully fitting to conduct this interview on the premises of his record label.

Mr. Jaroussky, the number of your CD releases is just as impressive as their musical range. Is it a countertenor’s destiny, to re-discover and showcase his voice again and again?

Philippe Jaroussky: I keep saying that nothing was written for countertenor voices – not even Baroque music. Of course, that’s deliberately provocative, but what I’m trying to express is that every countertenor has the opportunity to choose the repertoire he is comfortable with for himself.

Does that mean that musical self-discovery was important for you?

Jaroussky: Sure! To sing a wide range of repertoire, for instance, helped me to discover new colours in my voice. When I was on the look-out for new repertoire, my personal taste in music often wasn’t the deciding factor, but whether I, as a performer, can find a musical approach to the piece. Next year I’m turning forty, and looking back, I think it was the right thing to do, to record such a multitude of CDs. Sometimes, I’m asking myself whether it’s too many, but right at the same time I get another idea for another project yet.

Whereas on your CDs, unknown repertoire seems to comprise the majority of the arias, not the famous ones.

Jaroussky: I belong to a generation of singers with a faible for concept albums, I’m Generation Concept Album, if you’d like. (laughs) Unavoidably, you encounter a multitude of unknown arias in the process. On the other hand, all the famous arias are famous for a reason – they are incredibly beautiful. And I don’t want to finally sing those once I reach 60, especially as the voice keeps changing as you grow older; it can always turn out to be too late for this one aria. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m recording so much.

Your latest project, just released, is an album comprising arias by Händel.

Jaroussky: Obviously, a Händel album isn’t very original. However, I’d guess that the listeners won’t be familiar with about 80 percent of the arias. There is no Giulio Cesare, no Ariodante, no Rinaldo – instead there are arias from “Flavio,””Radamisto,””Tolomeo,””Imeneo”, … famous operas, but not super-famous. I chose the arias with great care, so I didn’t choose overly large numbers for my voice, like it was the case in some former projects of mine, for example on the “Farinelli” album. With the Händel CD, I’m focusing more on the music than on virtuosity.

Is that the reason for the many recitatives on the CD?

Jaroussky: The most important criterion for me to choose the numbers by was whether they are interesting. A recitativo is a nice way to guide the listener to the aria. If you’re only filing aria after aria, a lot might get lost on the way. Händel was a master when it came to composing recitatives. Sometimes they are so expressive and full of energy that they are packing more emotion than the aria itself. Just take the gorgeous “Stille amare” from “Tolomeo,” with its absolutely crazy harmonies! I’m not saying this often, but it is the album I am the most proud of. I think that I stayed exactly within my capabilities. I used to want to venture the 20 percent beyond, and eventually, it would have affected my voice.

This year, you’ve been inaugurating your “Académie Musicale Philippe Jaroussky” in Paris – is this one thing you are telling your students there?

Jaroussky: Yes and no. It’s not my intention to teach the pupils and students there how to sing – that’s what their teachers are for. Rather I want to aid them in developing their own vision of what they really want to do, and show them a way.

How was it for you? Did someone help you find your musical path?

Jaroussky: If it hadn’t been for this one teacher in school who told my parents that I absolutely should make music, I wouldn’t have become a singer. So this person changed my life, completely. Maybe, with the “académie,” I want to return just a portion of the opportunities I have been given by this one person. There was a huge portion of luck as well. With 18 years, I started to sing, and by 20, I was singing Nerone in Monteverdi’s “Lincoronazione di Poppea, which was a little crazy.

But apparently it was worth the risk!

Jaroussky: (laughs) Still, I was too young! My mind may have been ready, however, my physical means weren’t. On the other hand, this fearlessness has played to my great advantage: I never felt held-back when I sang, completely different from when I played the violin or the piano. I have met a lot of your artists who are highly talented and musically gifted, but who struggle to jump in at the deep end. As an artist, you have to take the risk.

We haven’t talked about yet another important part of the singing profession yet: acting. Does it come naturally to you?

Jaroussky: I’m not a natural actor, and I’m quite frank about that. However, you can learn the art of acting. I’m watching intensely what my colleagues do, how they move on stage. And I understood one thing: At your rehearsal, when you work with the stage director, you’re becoming their puppet. It’s not your job to question what she or he in the director’s chair is telling you – you just do it and focus on singing.

Let’s take Cecilia Bartoli, who is incredibly versatile and flexible. A director can ask her for the exact opposite of what she has been doing just before. And she just does it! That’s definitely a thing that takes work to learn: being no more than a doll. An opera house is a giant machine, with a multitude of passionate people in all professions. It’s expensive on top of it. A bad production, concerning craft or artistry, simply isn’t an option.

And vice versa: how should a stage director treat the singers?

Jaroussky: They have to understand the singer. It’s possible that during their conception, they had a completely different type of singer in mind. So next is, to adapt their own concept to the singer who’s actually on stage. That means stage directors have to be flexible as well, not just stubbornly pursue their initial idea. For me, what makes a good stage director is to have a clear concept of what they want, but being able to compromise in adapting it, taking into account the possibilities and personalities of the singers. Singers are absolutely different.

Do you feel that as a countertenor, you have more limitations on stage than, let’s say, a soprano, because you have a different technique?

Jaroussky: Not because I’m a countertenor. But we countertenors differ a lot from each other, have different qualities and consequently, different challenges. For my part, I would never sing Giulio Cesare by Händel.

Never or not yet?

Jaroussky: Never! Neither Ariodante. I am very careful in choosing my parts. I need to feel that I can to contribute something new and uncommon to a character. I want to surprise with my role, and offer the audience something they haven’t heard like that before. After all, that’s what makes opera so exciting.

Philippe Jaroussky sings Handel:

 

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2015-12-17

concerti.de – Treue und Wankelmut

2015-12-17, Concerti, by Andreas Falentin

CD-REZENSION PHILIPPE JAROUSSKY

Treue und Wankelmut

Philippe Jaroussky und Karina Gauvin dominiert [sic!] das Schaulaufen der Virtuosen in Händels melancholischer Komödie

von Andreas Falentin

Händel: Partenope
Karina Gauvin (Partenope), Philippe Jaroussky (Arsace), Emöke Baráth (Armindo) u. a.
Il Pomo d´Oro, Riccardo Minasi (Leitung)
Erato (3 CDs)
In der 1730 in London uraufgeführten Partenope scheint Händel shakespearesche Vertiefung anzustreben. In feinster Ausdifferenzierung werden Liebeslust und -leid, Treue und Wankelmut geradezu musikalisch analysiert. Mit perfekt geführtem, warmem und wandlungsfähigem Sopran gibt Karina Gauvin der Aufnahme in der umschwärmten Titelrolle ein großartiges Zentrum. Der andere Star der Aufnahme, Philippe Jaroussky, bezaubert mit dem melancholischen Ch’io parta?. Wo allerdings stimmlicher Krafteinsatz gefordert wird, klingt die Stimme körnig, nicht selten müde. Dagegen beeindrucken John Mark Ainsley mit expressiven Koloraturen und der immensen Ausdrucksspanne seines immer noch erstaunlich flexiblen Tenors und die junge Teresa Iervolino mit androgynem, groß dimensioniertem Alt. Dem fundierten Dirigat Riccardo Minasis fehlt es nirgends an klanglicher Delikatesse, gelegentlich aber durchaus an Esprit.

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2015-02-20-featured-press

Concerti – “Counterstar sein, das ist zu wenig für ein Leben!“ – English Translation

2015-02-20, Concerti, concerti.de

Generationen ehemaliger Schüler denken mit Schrecken an die Zeit, als sie vor versammelter Klasse auswendig ein Gedicht vortragen mussten. Für Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky indes wurde diese pädagogische Maßnahme dereinst zum Schlüsselerlebnis: Ein Poem Paul Verlaines schlug den damals zehnjährigen Schüler regelrecht in seinen Bann. Ein Vierteljahrhundert danach hat der Sänger nun ein Doppel-Album mit Liedern nach Gedichten des französischen Lyrikers veröffentlicht.

Source/Read more: concerti.de
digital edition edition here 


The following is not a professional translation; no profit is being made, no infringement of copyright is intended.

“Being a star countertenor is not enough for one lifetime!”

He is the most popular of his kind: Philippe Jaroussky about star cult, sabbaticals, and the difference between great voices and great artists
by Teresa Pieschacón Raphael


(caption 1) From violin to singing: Jaroussky first learned to play the violin before he started singing

(caption 2) Even as a child, at home, he preferred to sing the high notes

With horror, generations of former students recall the time they had to recite a poem by heart in front of their classmates. However, for countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, this educational measure proved to be a formative experience: A poem by Paul Verlaine veritably put the then 10 year old student under a spell. A quarter of a century later, the singer released a double-album with songs based on the French lyricist’s poems.

Mr. Jaroussky, unlike pictured on the cover of your new CD, we are not at Verlaine’s favorite café, but at a banal one at an airport. But where is your glass of absinthe?
Oh, perhaps I’m too well-behaved and disciplined for that; I don’t need this kind of “inspiration” – maybe unlike Paul Verlaine. When I’m not on stage, I lead a pretty normal life… Recently, a photographer even told me I seemed too “nice and gentle,” and suggested I should pose as the “bad boy” for a change.

Continue Reading

2015-09-20 featured press

Concerti – Ich warte schon 15 Jahre auf das hohe C – English Translation

2013-09-20, Concerti, by Jakob Buhre

… Johann Sebastian Bach
Ich habe ein bisschen Bach gesungen, als ich jünger war, in den letzten Jahren aber überhaupt nicht mehr. Er gehört zu den Komponisten, die ich mir für die Zukunft vorgenommen habe, allerdings frühestens in zwei Jahren. Erst möchte ich noch mein Deutsch verbessern. Und dann… Wissen Sie, ich habe die Arie aus der Matthäus-Passion gesungen, „Erbarme dich, mein Gott“, aber es ist fürchterlich: Selbst wenn ich mein Bestes gebe, habe ich das Gefühl, dass man der Perfektion dieser Komposition nicht gerecht wird.

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English Translation

Disclaimer: This isn’t a professional translation. We believe that the publication fulfills the criteria of “fair use,” discussion and study. No infringement of copyright is intended. 

“I ‘ve been waiting for the top C for 15 years”

Philippe Jaroussky is one of the most successful countertenors. Here he talks about …

Sense of humour …

Sense of humour is becoming more and more important for me. In many concerts with Christina Pluhar and her ensemble Les Arpeggiata, I have learned that a Classical concert on one hand has to be serious, but on the otherhand that sometimes you can offer something different. At the end of the concert, for example, we turned “Ohimè ch’io cado” by Monteverdi into a kind of jazz version; I danced to it a bit. This creates a different relationship between the artist and the audience . Moreover, in opera , in the libretti, there are incredibly funny things as well. Humour is a part of life , and music should show everything, not just suffering and love.

… the German audience

I know it by the silence, by the high concentration during the entire concert. In France and Spain, people often applaud or call already after the first aria; this almost never happens in Germany. In return, people can be all the more enthusiastic at the end, then they are telling you whether they liked it or not. I remember my first appearance in Germany; I initially thought people didn’t like it – until I heard the final applause.

… his highest note

The two-lined B flat (b flat ‘’). I wish I would manage the C – but that’s probably my fate : I’ve been waiting for 15 years for the C already , but in the meantime I think it is time to see it will not come anymore (laughs ) . Of course I’m always working on my entire vocal range, not only on the high segment. [At a loss for technical terms there in English, please feel free to correct me.] With this, one doesn’t only try to develop the high range to actually sing the high notes, but one works at the extremes to feel more comfortable in the normal range, to be more relaxed at the less difficult parts.

Singing … in women’s costumes

I’ve never done that; I think I would feel uncomfortable about it. Last year we performed the opera Artaserse by Leonardo Vinci, with five countertenors , and I was offered a woman’s role , but I preferred to take over one of the male parts. For me, the countertenor voice has nothing to do with portraying a woman. What’s more, I never try to imitate a woman . I chose this voice , because I can comfortably with it; it just happens to be easier for me this way than as a basso or tenor .

… composing

There was a time when I had a big urge for it, and spent days composing. However, the result was not good enough. And at some point I lacked the time as well. I am of the opinion: If you want to be a composer and want to write something good, then you have to devote your whole life to it. That’s why I have great respect for composers. It gives [me] a certain amount of frustration that nowadays I am only a performing artist, and do not create anything new myself.

… Johann Sebastian Bach

I have sung a little Bach when I was younger, but not anymore at all in the recent years. He is one of the composers that I have plans to work on in the future, but at the earliest in two years’ time. First I would like to improve my German. And then … You know, I have sung the aria from St. Matthew’s Passion , “Erbarme dich, mein Gott” [Have mercy, Lord, on me], but it is dreadful: Even if I give it my best, I’m having the feeling that one doesn’t do the perfection of this composition justice.

… funny viewer reactions to his high voice

It still happens that people are surprised, or react negatively. I try to focus them, sometimes I look at them directly. But you cannot convince everyone. There are always people who are attending a concert because someone invited them. And if someone like this doesn’t like your singing, there is nothing you can do about it. But actually this is what I like about this register. There are many fans of it, but just as many people who think countertenors are a fake, an imitation. And I respect that attitude as well;, it’s a very personal matter, after all, whether you like a voice or not.