The world’s best countertenor Philippe Jaroussky: “My voice is a time machine”

The well-known Philippe Jaroussky As the world’s best countertenor: “The first time was with a recital dedicated to Schubert, which is a fairly new repertoire for me. The room looked a bit like a science fiction setting, and that’s why I’m so happy to return with baroque music, which is my favorite repertoire.” .

The French singer, famous for her stratospheric vocal range and incredible ease and zest in coloratura, will present ‘Forgotten Arias’‘, a project with orchestra accompaniment Le Concert de la Loge, recovers melodies of “pre-Mozart” composers such as Gluck, Hasse, Jommelli or Traetta, some were forgotten for centuries and were rediscovered by Jaroussky himself. “No one can say that there are other singers who sing these songs better than me, because I’m the only one who sings them.”

“My head has more ambition than my voice”

Do you enjoy singing old arias more or doing research to find them?

There’s more ambition in my head than in my voice. There are arias that I read and see, “I can do this easily,” but then it doesn’t work. The program I took to Les Arts is one of the most difficult programs for me to sing, because there are basses, trebles, twelve-minute arias… So, although it is not a farewell to the castrati repertoire, I think of it as such. It will be one of his last recitals in this genre. I want to devote myself to a more intimate repertoire or sing Bach music.

What do you like most about going on tour?

I really like talking to the audience after the concert because I see the passion of the people listening to the artists. It’s great to see people traveling to the city where you’ll be on tour and performing, booking hotels, plane tickets, or coming to see me five or six times throughout the year. This passion is a gift because after Covid it has been difficult to fill rooms with recitals and operas. Filling these is a gift from the public to the artists. There are very talented artists who have difficulty filling their recitals.

“I see myself as a transmitter”

What kind of contributions does music composed three or four centuries ago make to the 21st century society?

Many have told me that they love coming to recitals like this because for them it’s like getting together with people who feel the same way. I think the important thing is that time stops for an hour or two and this becomes increasingly necessary. Let time stand still for an hour or two. It’s music full of emotion but also full of metaphysical things. The important thing in classical music, in the Schubert quintet, Tristan und Isolde or Don Giovanni, is that when you leave the concert you are a different person than the one who entered.

Can you turn a bad person into a good person with just your voice?

I don’t think so, but I have the ability to show the qualities of the composer. I consider myself a transmission antenna and that’s why I like the recital more than the opera. I don’t have to represent a character in the recital, I just have to convey the beauty of the music I sing to the audience.

As a director, he can convey this beauty.

Yes, after singing for 25 years, I am increasingly interested in conveying my musical vision beyond singing. It may seem a little arrogant, but I feel like I can contribute something new.

What does your voice say about you?

The voice work is amazing work. Thanks to this work, I get to know myself better and see how I change as my voice changes. I have been working with the same singing teacher for 25 years and we continue to discover things.

“To be a good countertenor, you have to love being one.”

Is a voice like yours a gift or a challenge?

A little of both things. To be a countertenor, you have to love being one. If you don’t like singing loudly, you can’t be a countertenor. But singing with my countertenor voice gave me more pleasure than singing with my baritone voice. And in recent years I have worked a lot with baritone, which is my chest voice, because it is needed more in operas.

In addition to baroque and classical music, she also sang Ella Fitzgerald and David Bowie. Is a voice like yours like a time machine?

Yes, it’s like a time machine. Singing is an art of timing in itself because when you sing you are always imagining the next notes you will sing. And this is a way of thinking about life, always looking to the future.

“If I saw Lady Gaga, I would go into hysterics”

Have you learned anything from pop or jazz music that you couldn’t find in classical or baroque music?

Yes, I found ways to sing with a perfect pitch that is sometimes not found in the operatic voice of Ella Fitzgerald or Nina Simone. When it comes to lyrical sound, we are very obsessed with sound projection. With my own vocal style, I’ve found that if I grab a microphone and forget about projection, I focus more on colors and intonation, and that brings me great joy. For example, I sang the song “Alfonsina y el mar”, which is very far from baroque but not so far from the spirit.


I didn’t want to sing “Alfonsina y el mar” because I think it’s the most beautiful song in the world and it’s also the saddest song. While preparing it, names from the past like Mercedes Sosa came to my mind, and this caused me to spend a lot of time finding my own voice for that song, I had to work on it more than any other baroque song. Every time I say this, I say it with great humility, it makes me more nervous than singing a Bach cantata.

Is the world’s most famous countertenor jealous of a pop star’s fame?

No, it’s a completely different fame. We have the luxury of having a small amount of popularity, and when they recognize me on the street, they are much less hysterical than a pop artist. If I saw Lady Gaga on the street, I would get hysterical and go crazy. Even if our lives are not normal at all, having a normal private life is a luxury for us.

Source: Informacion


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