When Arturo Toscanini, that most exacting of maestros, spoke the words “the voice of an angel,” he had in mind the matchless Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi. These days, wordsmiths are lavishing the same compliment on the Frenchman Philippe Jaroussky, a countertenor currently on tour with the pianist Jérôme Ducros, stopping next at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, in Valencia. … [subscribers only]
Jaroussky made a power move in tackling Monteverdi’s “Possente spirto,” typically a tenor showpiece, as a countertenor. The reward was substantial; the top of his range was ethereal and airy, with no steely spikes. The small Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble, directed by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, demonstrated a masterful grasp of dramatic tension in evoking the rolling Lethe waters.
019-10-25, Seen and Heard International, by Rick Perdian
I first heard Bejun Mehta at a Marilyn Horne Foundation concert early in his career. I thought then that he had the most beautiful countertenor I had ever heard, and time has not altered that assessment. He was joined by two other superstar countertenors, Philippe Jaroussky as Sesto and Christophe Dumaux as Tolomeo. Dressed in military garb with short trousers, Jaroussky looked and acted like a geeky boy scout, but his singing was fiery and passionate. Dumaux, bearded and louche, sang with equal bravura and had the richest tone of the three. […]
We forget, too often, that love and grief are two sides of the same coin. If you love, you will, eventually, grieve; if you do not grieve, you have not loved.
With the legend of Orfeo and Euridice, we see that inevitability played out. The popular myth, featuring the demi-god of song and a beautiful nymph, proved inspiration for many retellings, including the first opera over 400 years ago. […]
[…] Jaroussky sang with heart-rending eloquence and enormous musical intelligence. His delicately weighted countertenor added a sense of vulnerability not often found in tenor Orfeos, but he fully brought out the role’s passion and despair. In one of the many paradoxes that surround this myth and its musical transformations, his intricate embellishments conveyed overpowering emotional honesty rather than florid artifice — as if these words, in this context, could be expressed only in this way. […]
with Pacific MusicWorks co-Artistic Director Stephen Stubbs
There are a few elements of historical performance that, for obvious reasons, ought to remain in the past. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the majority of male operatic leading roles were written for castrati, who most often sang in the soprano or mezzo-soprano range, and were particularly valued for their virtuosity and almost super-human breath control. Obviously, most modern countertenors don’t fulfill that first basic necessity of the soprano range (most would qualify as altos), but then in the early 2000s a major new talent burst onto the scene in the form of the young French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. Beyond the sheer beauty of his voice and his highly-developed yet instinctive musicality, he possessed two even rarer qualities – the high tessitura of a mezzo-soprano, and the extreme virtuosity that could make sense of the wildest melismas that any baroque composer had devised. Suddenly, the vast repertoire of the castrati had a living advocate that could bring it back to life in our time!
We began our collaboration with Philippe in 2011 when he embodied the virtuoso role of Anfione in Agostino Steffani’s 1688 opera Niobe. How we came to work with Philippe on that project is part of the next chapter, but the result was this: a wildly successful stage production of Niobe by Gilbert Blin for the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival starring Philippe and Amanda Forsythe, followed by a recording on the Erato label which has received much glowing press and prizes, and finally a concert tour of Europe in 2014, (and unquestionably due to Philippe’s status as a European superstar) playing to full houses at some of the best halls in Europe from Madrid to Paris to Amsterdam.
In the next installment of OrfeoBlog, I will share how Amanda Forsythe, one of our favorite leading ladies, was chosen to be part of this exciting partnership. Stay tuned!
2019-10-23, Operawire, by Ching Chang (A.J. Goldmann)
[…] Philippe Jaroussky’s Sesto showed enormous range, delivering “Svegliatevi nel core” with the youthful resolve not unlike that of a Tin Tin ready to start a new adventure. Later, his touching rendition of “Cara speme” was a jewel almost too precious. […]
“May 13, 2019. Himmelsmusik, German for “heavenly music,” is the latest project of Austrian theorbo player Christina Pluhar and her early-music ensemble L’Arpeggiata, based in France.
Joined by Belgian soprano Céline Scheen and French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, Pluhar leads her charges in a program of 17th-century instrumental and vocal works rooted in—and pollinated by—influences from cities spanning the northern and southern ends of Europe.” […]
2019-04-09, Duke University Libraries, by Sarah Griffin
Check out our very own “staff picks”: Philippe Jaroussky and Artaserse, The Handel Album
French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky is among the most famous countertenors in the world right now, and it’s a voice range that has attracted growing interest in recent years. The high range of the countertenor voice and the manner in which its unusual qualities are produced results in a sound that has often been described as unearthly – it’s also a powerful and flexible voice type, able to handle music of stunning virtuosity and highly expressive pathos. […]