July 29, 2021

Philippe Jaroussky’s “Premier Homicide”

Has Philippe Jaroussky turned his back on the public? For the first time in his career more than twice ten years, the famous French countertenor does not sing: he conducts. A French first. The day before, at the Salzburg Pentecost Festival, he made his debut as a conductor in Alessandro Scarlatti’s very beautiful intimate oratorio, Cain over the first murder presented on May 25 in the immense Corum de Montpellier in reduced tonnage (one in two places). A room choice assumed by the director of the Opera, Valérie Chevalier: the space of the Opera-Comedy would have reduced the participation of the public with grief.

It is therefore in front of a well-filled audience that the musicians of the Artaserse ensemble, founded by Jaroussky in 2002, gave flesh and life to this expressive and colorful music, of great harmonic inventiveness, endowed with a strong dramatic power. and immediate seduction. It should be noted that Jaroussky inherited Scarlatti when he was still only a student of the countertenor Gérard Lesne, who had told him that opening any score by the composer from Palermo amounted to discovering a treasure.

Almost unreal candor

The First Murder, whose entry into the repertoire of the Paris Opera in January 2019 under the direction of René Jacobs and the management of Romeo Castellucci had made a strong impression, in fact relates the first murder of humanity, that of Abel by his Brother Cain after their parents, Adam and Eve, were cast out of heaven on earth. Taken from the Book of Genesis, this logical continuation of original sin will however be crowned by the repentance of the assassin (in fine resisting the tempting devil), the post-mortem forgiveness of the victim (whose voice sings the celestial beatitudes), while the cursed Adam dreams of a new (less violent?) offspring, to whom God promises redemption.

Philippe Jaroussky surrounded himself with young singers whose vocals ideally characterize the archetypes of the characters. Thus the Florentine countertenor, Filippo Mineccia, of tortured expressiveness, Cain on the verge of a nervous breakdown, whose nervous vibrato and vocal impulses, sometimes bordering on ugliness, ideally contrast with the native sweetness of the innocent Abel. Note that the Italian will find in the magnificent air of final repentance and farewell poignant accents (“Miei genitori, addio”) ending on the edge of expiration.

Philippe Jaroussky surrounded himself with young singers whose vocals ideally characterize the archetypes of the characters

You have 61.01% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.