This was an interview, done by a German magazine called “Siegessäule.”
“Philippe Jaroussky: „Ein Job für Narzissten“ — from siegessäule.de // translation by Lankin
Philippe Jaroussky — A Job For Narcissists
The gay, French countertenor in an interview about his life, opera arias, and castratos
SIS Dec 2009
Within the small family of countertenors the French Philippe Jaroussky is the unquestioned number one; with his falsetto voice he fills the concert halls. His new CD out, he will be performing on 11th Nov. in the Konzerthaus Berlin.
SIS: To achieve what you have, it takes much time, and also forces you to deny yourself some things. How do you handle?
Philippe Jaroussky: I’m giving many concerts all around the world, but only rarely participate in opera stagings, which makes it a bit easier. After two days I am home again in Paris, where I try to lead the normal life of a thirty-year old. Still, it needs to be said that my job is satisfying in many ways. You are getting to know many interesting people, and keep receiving ovations. And incessantly, I am allowed to talk about myself in interviews like this. It is a job for narcissists.
Does this leave time for a relationship? I have a boyfriend, for two years by now, and it helps me to stay grounded. When I was alone, I kept asking myself why I keep doing this to me; all the appearances, the constant being-on-tour. It is great to have someone supportive.
How do you spend your quality time together? When I’m together with him, we try to savour every minute. We are not doing anything special then, but just enjoy being together, as well as some peace. This is important if you’re leading a crazy life like I do.
As a countertenor you always had a strong interest concerning the history of the castrati whose arias you are singing. What is it that fascinates you about the subject? The stories of their lives are simply fascinating, having all the ingredients; tragedy and triumph, monstrosity and majesty. Others decided on them, and castrated them before puberty to preserve the boyish voice. Back then, it was a phenomenon all over Europe, which of course doesn’t exist anymore nowadays. On stage, they were like gods; but society didn’t consider them to be real men. Some were very unhappy; singing provided in fact their only raison d’être. That’s what made their singing this intense. The reason it touched the audience on such a level was that the castrati knew how to put all their lives, all their personal drama into their voices. By the way, many castratos died very soon after their definite departure from the stage.
Your CD covers radiate a very masculine eroticism. Is this a necessity when trying to succeed in classic music business?
People have their own interpretations. You cannot determine everything, in the end; it happens that you lose control over your own image at times.
Do you notice to have a large gay fan base?
Yes, but this is not directly connected to my person. Gay people love culture, and most specifically classical music! They are an intrinsic part of cultural life — maybe because they have a special sensitivity and aren’t afraid to show their feelings.