To avoid further questions asked…

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.

Interview:Torsten Träger


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12 thoughts on “To avoid further questions asked…

    • Yes, he does sound like a great guy. His voice is phenomenal! However, it is said he is not a castrato, that he came his voice without any cutting. That still leaves unanswered the question of whether he was born with, or without, gonads.

      • Hey, and thanks for your comment! That’s plain nonsense, however. His chest-voice when singing is kind of a cute and flimsy baritone, you can hear it here, at about one minute:

        Also, his speaking voice is completely like it should be for a physically intact man. It’s funny that such assumptions are being made all the time, and all over the place, with nearly every countertenor; I’m a soprano (not a particularly good one, but I am,) and no one seems to be confused if my regular speaking voice (around c’, d’,) differs greatly from the Queen of the Night range I am most comfortable singing in – the two vary by two octaves.

        I agree, his voice is phenomenal, and has something human, not male, if he chooses to. I love that, as I love all ambivalence. I don’t even particularly like him singing low, not if it is included like a circus act; maybe he feels the urge somehow to prove himself to the audience in some way, to show that in fact he has balls, I have no idea. For me, sounding female is not a stain that needs to be rubbed off, as it isn’t anything shameful at all.

        Here’s one of the rare occasions for you where PJ sings a girl’s part, and there’s no doubt about it. “Mum, don’t make me a nun,” (Madre, non mi far monaca.)

  1. The Comitee for the Sanctification of Philippe Jaroussky is delighted to have been able to be of help. 🙂
    If I can get the attention of a friend of mine amidst 1000+ facebook friends spamming him when he is online, I maybe can provide you with more names. He is a répétiteur and pianist, currently busy with rehearsing Anna Bolena with Garancia and Gruberova, afaik. *enviously nibbling nails

    Considering the other subject… I don’t know how it is in other countries, e.g., in France, especially Paris, where people have conserved perhaps a bit more of the spirit of the Code Napoléon; in Germany, apart from the big cities, perhaps, sexual orientation is still a big issue. This, unfortunately, after a short time of thinking things might finally improve, has grown worse again, as I find, as the percentage of people from other countries, sometimes with very conservative backgrounds mingle with the rest of the population who wasn’t so broad-minded to start with.
    Reactions to gay people vary from open hatred, to complete incomprehension, to ridicule them, to indifference glossed over with tolerance. Personally, the last is the worse for me.
    “Well they cannot help it, can’t they.” As if persons would need any justification for how they just happen to be? Nothing wrong about it, so, what to justify for? I always imagine that every few days I pick up phrases like “I bet she has blue eyes… ” “Yes, but, she can’t help it, you know? … ” “She could be so decent to wear contact lenses at her own mothers birthday, …”

    A very good friend of mine — reminds me type-wise a bit of Jaroussky, now that I think about it, ex-dancer, countertenor, and out too, handles quite well.
    He doesn’t make his living from singing though, but with “normal” jobs. I helped him doing some job applications quite recently.
    In general, when you write an application, you write one sentence mentioning you live in a stable relationship, if that be the case — employers like to read that, especially if it is an application for a job in healthcare, service, etc.
    My gay friend — together with his bf for ages already — wanted me to omit the sentence I already wrote. It is his choice — I would be more offensive, I think.

    Amidst all the things that define you, your sexual orientation is the one most picked upon, until this one thing becomes all that people even notice. This might also be one fact why there are more out people in music and arts than elsewhere. You just know when you are a good artist that you are special — even if you frequently think you suck, you still cannot help the distinct feeling that you do something different from anybody else. And people notice the art you make, as this is what they want you for in the first place.

    For male artists, it is more complicated, as many heterosexual men won’t fangirl an openly gay man. I don’t think that men would so much mind if Garanca was lesbian, e.g. — as long as there is a narrow margin of hope for them 😀

    So, concerning the CD covers the interviewer speaks about — I guess referring to the awesome Vivaldi Heroes white shirt pics — Jaroussky is avoiding the question a bit, isn’t he?

    My opinion on that — no one has a problem with Di Donato in breeches, Connolly making out with De Niese … it is a ROLE! VIvaldi Operas are Operas, he is singing Heroes, so WHY is he not allowed to have a cover picture where he looks somewhat butch, for once in a while?

    For me, the interviewer’s question also expresses a certain bias. Just because the pictures don’t happen to allign with his own mental picture of Mr. PJ, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them.

    You shouldn’t limit people to one role, but I am only expressing my own opinion there. I like the variety. I am in love with how Mr. PJ sings, and acts, and behaves. If he happens to wear…


    …a dress, …


    …a suit, …


    ….a sack, …


    …or is singing in youtube-induced pitch dark — it makes NO difference for me.

  2. ah, thanks for the translation! I didn’t know he’s gay 🙂 . Now i’ll go look at his relationship with Hammarstrom’s Bradamante (in Paris) with new eyes!

  3. Oh, glad I could be of help 😉 Hmm what if…. I always wondered or wanted to write a slash story (as there is close to no Opera slash, I mean, what a lack!) where Bradamante turns out to be a guy really… but more inspired by Handel’s Alcina than the other.

  4. Well Lankin I have been out as gay for 44 years, and I have never had a negative reaction.

    And I think it’s just great that Jarrousky talks about his bf so easily and naturally.

    Good for him and good for the interviewer.

  5. Thank you for your comment! I’m glad that you never had any negative reaction, and it would be great could it always be like this. In fact, I love how Jaroussky talks about anything — in all of the interviews I have never seen him visibly bored, which is already an achivement considering that he mostly has to answer similar questions. “How can a man sing so high?” -.-
    And well, good for him, and good for the interviewer, and so, subsequently — good for us.

  6. I love Jaroussky, and that he is gay is just another plus. Also he is easy on the eyes, as we say. I am gay also, and have run into a few problems here in the United Snakes, but keep forging on.

  7. ❤ Yes, he is adorable! For me I think he belongs into the "even if" group: I would adore him, even if he were straight. 😀

    Wishing you good luck 😉

  8. “to indifference glossed over with tolerance. Personally, the last is the worse for me.”
    Huh? What’s wrong with a straight person feeling indifferent about whether a person is gay or not? And what’s wrong with “glossed over with tolerance”?! It’s what once was called civility. Is there anyone alive (and who has matured) who expects the world to always be in agreement with them? Such egocentricity is astounding and does a great disservice to straights who came to this page to learn more about a man with a great instrument (and by that, of course, I mean his voice, ha, ha!).

  9. I think you got me wrong – mainly due to the fact that I’m not a native speaker and could have picked clearer words. What I actually meant (about two years past, by the way) was not that there is anything bad about tolerance, even less civility, of course.

    I meant some people who claim they have no problem with gays, but are allergic to their visibility. They are fine with gays, as long as they needn’t see them or perceive them as gay.

    And well, call me egocentric, but no, I actually think that a world where everyone would agree with me would be a horrible and scary place I wouldn’t want to live in.

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