Here you are. Enjoy!
Interviewer: Opera – it’s expensive, old-fashioned and deeply uncool, always the same plots and anyway, it’s only for the people in the know. Well, it’s precisely to dispel these myths that the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky has accepted to be the Patron of the 8th programme of the “Tous à l’opéra” (“Opera for All”) event. Good evening, Philippe Jaroussky.
Ph. J. Good evening.
Interviewer: Good evening and thanks for being here with us. Let’s come back to these pre-conceived ideas which I quoted jokingly but there is a small element of truth (in them). You’re the first countertenor to be Patron of this event. Is this something of which you’re proud?
Ph. J. Euh, in any case, it’s true that it’s a pleasure to see that the countertenor voice is now included (and accepted) into the larger family of lyric voices. Of course, this is not the only reason I accepted. Speaking as a singer, I’ve been fighting these misconceptions constantly for over 10 years.
Interviewer: We’ll talk again about these misconceptions but first let’s listen to this distinctive voice, this timbre which is fêted around the world. This is for the people who don’t know you, for those who know you only a little and for everyone else – and for our pleasure – we’ll listen to an extract from Vivaldi’s opera “Giustino” at the Chapelle Royale at Versailles. (Actually, I'm not sure this IS Versailles - looks like the Chapelle de la Trinité in Lyon to me ... A.)
Clip of Ph. J. singing “Vedro con mio diletto”
Interviewer: Obviously, it’s marvellous. We could listen to you right into the night but I have a few questions to ask you in the form of a little “True or False” quiz. “Opera – it’s a pastime for rich and cultured people.” True or False?
Ph. J. Err, rich . This is perhaps a slight misconception. You should know that the average price for a seat at the opera in France is between €30 and €40. Obviously, it’s more expensive than the cinema but you can enjoy a show lasting for 3 or 4 hours with real flesh and blood performers and the show is unique every evening.
Interviewer: Even so, for €40, you won’t have the best seats. You’re (placed) a bit far back.
Ph. J.: That’s true. What is perhaps difficult for someone who is not in the habit (of going to the opera) is that you have to be aware of where (best) to sit. Sometimes you have to book your seats well in advance. That could also perhaps be difficult.
Interviewer: “Opera performances are too long”. True or False?
Ph. J.; It depends on the opera – some operas are two hours in length and others last for longer than four hours.
Interviewer: It’s long for the performers and sometimes for the audience …
Ph. J. I think this is all part and parcel of the special character of opera. To go and see a 4 hour show is a tremendous uplifting human experience which no other kind of entertainment can offer – so it’s fantastic!
Interviewer: “It’s always the same plots about love, hatred and betrayal”. True or False?
Ph. J. Don’t they always deal with love, hatred and betrayal in the cinema? After all, what is fantastic is that there are 1000 ways of dealing with love, hatred and betrayal and opera also deals with them wonderfully well.
Interviewer: Well, the “Tous à l’opéra” initiative is taking place in 26 opera houses during this weekend. You can see on the map - from Paris to Bordeaux, from Nantes to Montpellier passing via Lyon, Clermont (-Ferrand) and Dijon. What will people actually be able to see and hear?
Ph. J.: First of all, we should take our hats off to the French opera houses for their energy. This is a Europe-wide initiative and France is the country with the most participants. I’m very familiar with some of the French opera houses; they are very active and energetic throughout the year with educational programmes. You’ll be able to watch rehearsals; you can go backstage (in the wings); you can see how the costumes are made …
Interviewer: Precisely. You can discover the various professional bodies because there’s an enormous number of different professions involved in the production of a show at this (high) level.
Ph. J.: Yes, yes. There are a number of hugely committed people involved – not necessarily those who can be seen on stage, people who work all year round on the costumes, the lights, the scenery. It’s really a labour of love.
Interviewer: And you, Philippe Jaroussky, will be in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées on Saturday at 15H00 for a free concert with “surprises”. What is a “surprise” recital exactly?
Ph. J. At the beginning I was supposed to do a solo recital and then I said to myself “Well, that’s not what opera is really about”. In opera you share the stage with other musicians, other singers – so I invited a lot of friends (to join me) who kindly accepted. We’ll try to stimulate emotions but also to include a little touch of humour with it as you can see on the screen there. We decided to aim for a little bit of self mockery.
Announcer: And you’ll be back again at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées on the 25th June.
Ph. J. Exactly. For a Purcell recital.
Announcer: Thank you for inspiring us to push back the doors of the opera houses this weekend …
(Interviewer trots off for the press review with a lady who really likes Ph. J.’s voice (don’t we all?) ...