I am almost finished but it is so interesting I wanted you to read what I have....Here goes:
One cannot keep a voice from being erotic.
At 32 years old he is top of the line, an enchanting head voice and a strong personality. Fervent baroque interpreter, the brightest of our countertenors takes on his contemporaries from now on.
Philippe Jaroussky shows an angel's demeanor and a voice of diabolic purity, a direct gaze, an invigorate freshness of ideas in this baroque universe where he is clearly at home. A stellar Vivaldian hero, palpitating soul in the 17th century motets, divinely human when he slips on the skin of castrato Carestini, refined colorist in his last disc entirely dedicated to Jean-Chretien Bach (youngest of the lineage, 1735-1782), the most radiant of our countertenors, 32 years of age and 3 times-winner of victoires de la musique under his belt, he sings in head voice but keeps his feet on the ground.
How did you discover such a special countertenor voice?
At the college at Sartrouville I had a music teacher who was so passionate for music, Gerard Bertram. With him we listened to all kinds of music, we wrote our songs. Since I had a pretty voice, I recorded one of his compositions, at 13 years old! He pushed my parents into getting me into a conservatory. Proof that the school medium can reveal to you yourself , which did not prevent me from working hard, because later on the bachelor in science lead me to college.
Between times I devoured the solfeggio, I learned violin which exhilarated me and the piano to complete my harmonic foundations. I had fun composing. At 18 I was immersed in Chostakovitch and Stravinsky and I would have contemplated the higher cycle in conservatory, even if I was too old, having started too late, as I was made to feel…By chance I went to a concert by countertenor Fabrice di Falco. The great Haendel arias composed for Farinelli, accompanied by organ, in a church. A shock! I too could do it, because, for fun I used to sing "Casta Diva" placing the voice easily in the high notes, "like Callas". Then I went to find Nicole Fallien, Di Falco's teacher, with whom I work always.
Is this voice quick to be assumed as "unnatural" ?
I prefer the expression "trained voice". The first years I lived this voice in an instrumental way. A way to protect myself. I had not wanted to accept its sensual charge, its sexual ambiguity. But after all, one cannot prevent a voice from being erotic, especially when one uses the clearest of one's art in singing throbbing of love or the caressing vertigos of death.
When have you first put your foot on a stage?
I went on stage with Gerard Lesne, stylist of a unique perception, when I saw Jean-Claude Malgoire who was looking for a casting for the Trilogy of Monteverdi (Orfeo, The return of Ulyssse in Patria , The Incoronazione di Poppea). He sat, listened for 5 minutes…and engaged me for 3 months. At 20, after only 2 years of study! This working by instinct, typical of Malgoire, has allowed many young singers to be revealed and has propelled them straight away in big roles. Me, all skinny and awkward, as Neron! I still hear the loud voice of Malgoire: "You are so young that in the first act one has the impression you will be crushed like a fly. But Neron's madness, that has empowered him too soon, will win you over. And while you are going crazy the fear will increase".
What do you particularly like in the baroque universe?
The intensity of feelings! In spite of Librettos becoming academic, explosive characters, feathered with musical ornamentation. And this voluptuous sound, this dizziness that reflects, enchants our epoch accurately. The success of the baroque opera today has also an irony that the romantic opera has lost. In L'Incoronazione de Poppea (1642) the characters are full of humor, of self-mockery, of naughty flashes. In Naples, between 2 acts in opera seria, comic intermissions would tease what had just been acted. The same in the opera-buffa. The same in such an austere opera like Il Sant'Alessio, by Stefano Landi (1587-1639) the cardinals sent armfuls of flowers and kisses to the castrati. Everyone fooled with the representation. One came to have fun. We have lost this. Like the pastoral aspect of many works. The stage directors, often at a loss, convey these delicious moments with scenes of shepherds and parodies of babbling. Useless, when they are passages of magic, among the most appreciated in that time, where the singer imitated the song of birds, the murmur of a stream, in an osmosis with nature that seems to me a beautiful actuality.
Certain conventions are however reluctant to die such as this profussion of "da capo" arias, these revivals of the same theme, that seem never to stop?
It is still necessary to take the time to appreciate these revivals, without the action starting every 2 seconds with interpreters rolling on the floor or commenting what you sing. Our times are afraid of spaces. A "da capo" aria represents suspended time, a pause in the action dedicated to the beauty of song. We who run all day long, aren't we capable any more to have ten minutes to appreciate some expression of feeling with infinite nuances?It is a great moment of inner theater for the character, a piece of bravery ably conveyed by arias less rich, to create a moment of surprise. Take an aria of despair: The first part plunges us in the blackest confusion. The second is a moment of surcease, of rebellion. At last the "da capo" shows the resignation necessary for these two extremes. The singer must reveal his vulnerability. What makes the strength of baroque heroes is not the scenes of war, but the love trials he bears and overcomes. Moreover, after these hours of torment the end rushes through in a few minutes, whereas in the romantic opera happiness is expressed from the beginning and misfortune extends till the curtains fall.
How can we be fair in the ornamentation when our feeling about this has
It is the most fascinating challenge to the baroque artists of my generation. After years of integrity in interpretation we dispose of a crazy freedom, but we have to adapt it to the tastes of our times. Today nobody would stand the artificial eccentricities of the castrati. In the CD about Jean-Chretien Bach the aria "La Dolce Fiamma" had been ornamented by Mozart himself. Too much chromatic delirium, too many spices in the tensions. I prefer sobriety. Generally I work the ornamentation at my work table. Then I try them. And I purify….It is also a way to explore my technical abilities to self-renovate….
Your head voice is seraphic. But where do you place the body in this repertory?
he castrati trained hours in front of a mirror to keep their posture in accordance with the drama. Everything had to concentrate on the voice, without one interfering gesture.: a little like the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, capable of promenading through an octave without the slightest quivering. But everything gets more complex during a recital, when you are following a dozen of these arias, whereas in an opera one has to sustain 4 in several hours. At the start, well warmed up, I display my technique easily, quite impassibly. When fatigue comes I move and compensate for the technical passages by choreographing the ones where I feel a little fair vocally, and evidently it is in this "stylistic misinterpretation" that the public finds me dramatically most moving!!Singing in head voice produces a tremendous pleasure of vibrations! At a phoniatrist I realized my vocal cords stretch, they thin at the most in response to the chest voice, and specially they do not keep vibrating naturally: It is one of them that by a vibratory wave sparks off the second.
All of this situated high and in the voice and head, can lead to an intellectualized singing. Also I worked for several years with Frederic Fay, a coach that helped me conciliate the cognitive layers of my brain with the reptilian brain, the one that makes you snatch your hand from contact with fire. I gained in spontaneity, in speed, to try to get close to this common part of the great artists like Callas: It is her, it is you, it is me; she touches the supernatural and at the same time we feel her close to us. Tearing down these psychic and physical doors I could project better. If I have mismanaged a tension in a concert I don't panic, because I know that I have the key and that it will come back. On the other hand how not to let yourself be submerged in the excessive emotions in a baroque opera? One is reminded of what Piaff said to her admirers that asked about these mood states when she showed herself deeply moved in a song: "At this very moment I am asking myself if I turned off the gas well when I left the house."
to be continued I am slower in french than in spanish!!