By Rebecca Mead
New Yorker — July 15, 2019
Jakub Józef Orliński brings a swooning sultriness – and a bunch of break-dancing moves – to the Baroque-music revival.
Shortly after Jakub Józef Orliński, a young Polish countertenor, made his début at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, in a 2017 production of Cavalli's "Erismena", he was celebrating with several other singers when he got a phone call from one of the event's organizers. An ensemble scheduled to appear the next day on a live broadcast of "Carrefour de Lodéon", a French radio program, had dropped out. Would Orliński jump in and perform? Orliński, who was twenty-six at the time, was in high spirits, having played the role of Orimeno with goofy, irrepressible energy. He'd made his first entrance by leaping onto a chair, launching into a jaunty aria, and then – exhibiting a skill singular among opera singers – throwing himself into a sequence of break-dancing power moves. Orliński said into the phone, "Of course I am going to sing! I am a singer. I love to sing!"
He awoke the next morning with something of a hangover. Usually when he was asked to perform a solo he chose a fiery coloratura piece such as "Furibondo spira il vento", from "Partenope" or "A dispetto d'un volto ingrato", from "Tamerlano" – Handel compositions that invite the singer to show off his flexibility and range at daring speed. Under the circumstances, however, Orliński selected something more languid: "Vedrò con mio diletto", an aria from Vivaldi's 1724 opera "Il Giustino". Orliński put on baggy shorts and beat-up sneakers, and rolled up the sleeves of a crumpled tattersall shirt: this was radio, after all, and it was ninety degrees outside. Only when he and his pianist, Alphonse Cémin, who was in shorts and flip-flops, arrived at the recording venue – a courtyard with a small audience – did they learn that the performance was also to be streamed on Facebook Live. It was too late for Orliński to change clothes, and so he sang just as he was – unshaved, and dressed as if ready for a day of sleeping it off under the Provençal plane trees.
The video of that performance has since been viewed three and a half million times on YouTube, the clarity and sensuality of Orliński's vocals only heightened by his grungy appearance. Vivaldi's aria, a recital favorite among countertenors, showcases a singer's emotional expressiveness and vocal virtuosity. In Orliński's swooning rendering, purity combined with sultriness. The countertenor voice is arresting and otherworldly, dwelling in a range typically associated with a feminine voice, yet deployed by a man. This provocative juxtaposition was readily evident in the video; its viral spread was assisted by the fact that Orliński's good looks – an athletic physique, a square jaw, abundant curls, and striking blue eyes – are as uncommonly pleasing as his voice. The consensus among the video's two and a half thousand commenters was that, if Michelangelo's statue of David were to come to life, he would look and sound like Orliński.
Orliński's effervescent, zany manner is well suited to the contrived plots that are commonplace in Baroque operas. (If you cannot really follow the story of "Erismena", you can at least enjoy the ebullient charm of its characters.) Orliński, who started break-dancing in his teens, belongs to a prize-winning group, in his home town of Warsaw, called the Skill Fanatikz Crew, where he was known for combining moves in inventive ways, and for his joyful charisma on the floor. Lately, his competitive-dance career has been somewhat sidelined by his singing schedule, but on YouTube he can be seen on the roofs of buildings in Warsaw, leaping into handstands, spinning upside down, and unabashedly adopting the streetwise posturing of a Beastie Boy. Orliński is not infrequently called on by opera directors to bust some moves, and though certain tricks are not recommended onstage – headstands cause the neck muscles to tense, which is unhelpful for a singer – he incorporates others into his warmup routine, including moves on the floor that stretch his back, lengthening the muscles between his ribs, and handstands, which allow gravity to do the work of lifting his soft palate. (A raised palate produces a less nasal tone.) Even when Orliński is not executing windmills or performing other acrobatic feats in opera productions, he displays a muscular hypermasculinity that offers a piquant counterpoint to the ethereal quality of his voice.
Orliński has extended his appeal to younger audiences through social media: he is fluent in English, and often posts daily on Instagram, where more than thirty-four thousand followers watch him narrate his travels ("It's so beautiful today in Paris!") and take in touristy street shots that he has augmented with animated waddling ducks. He communicates directly with his fans on Facebook, where he recently posted a slickly produced seven-minute documentary in which he explains the intersection between break dancing and operatic singing, saying, "Break dance allowed me to understand how my body works – taught me the discipline, and helped me to find the balance". The camera followed him backstage at the Bockenheimer Depot, in Frankfurt, during a production of Handel's "Rinaldo" in which he played the lead role. Before a performance, he can be seen daubing his torso with white body paint; afterward, he is seen showering it off.
The singers who performed in operatic works by Handel or Vivaldi in the eighteenth century were the musical celebrities of their day, and Orliński's approach is to gleefully inhabit that space of stardom, rather than to handle the repertoire as if he were a reverent museum curator. "I treat Baroque music as, basically, pop music, but in their time", he told me when I met him, earlier this spring. "I feel like Justin Timberlake sometimes. I feel fresh, and I feel kind of entertained by performing, and I want to have fun. I don't want it to be kind of stiff – ‘I'm going to sing some classical music and be serious right now’". Orliński, who worked as a model in Warsaw before becoming a professional singer, has been featured not only in classical-music publications but also in high-fashion magazines, including Polish Vogue and Citizen K, the French publication, which recently put him on the cover of its men's edition wearing a powdered gray wig and a ruffled floral shirt. His own musical tastes are eclectic: lately, in addition to opera he's been listening to Lukas Graham, the Danish pop band, and such nineties hip-hop groups as Jurassic 5 and Hilltop Hoods. The audiences who attend his concerts, many of whom are younger than is typical for classical music, sometimes respond beyond the usual boundaries of concert-hall propriety. "Vedrò con mio diletto" has become his final, crowd-pleasing encore, and when he coyly introduced it in February, at the new Zaryadye Hall, in Moscow – "Here's a very unknown piece by Vivaldi" – audience members cheered and held their iPhones aloft, like fans at a rock concert welcoming their favorite hit. Orliński has the accomplished performer's art of making the practiced appear to be spontaneous, and, dressed in a slim Hugo Boss suit, he nonetheless captured in Moscow some of the casual intimacy of his shorts-and-sneakers performance in Aix. Just before the violinists began to ply their bows for the first bars of the piece, Orliński reached a hand up to loosen the single button on his jacket, so that it fell open – the suggestive gesture of a lounge singer.
The call time for the rehearsal was six-thirty, but Orliński was running behind schedule. He was arriving on a train from Paris, having briefly visited his family in Warsaw after finishing a run, in Frankfurt, in Handel's "Rodelinda". His performances there had been interrupted by a stint in Toblach, in the Italian Alps, where he had been drafted, at short notice, to sing the role of Ottone in Handel's "Agrippina", alongside Joyce DiDonato and Andrea Mastroni, on a new recording for Warner Classics. There had also been a one-off engagement in Turku, Finland, where he again performed in "Agrippina", this time taking the role of Narciso, which he'd had to master in the two days before the concert.
At the Chapelle Corneille, the orchestra, which consisted of nine young musicians, ran through instrumental pieces by Arcangelo Corelli and other composers while checking for texts from Orliński on his latest estimated time of arrival. At around eight, Orliński finally showed up. It was raining, and he was wearing the kind of baggy green windbreaker that would be suitable for hiking in the Tatra Mountains, along with gray sneakers and tapered black track pants. He took off his jacket to reveal an even baggier green sweater underneath. He looked weary.
"Where are you coming from?" Francesco Corti, the orchestra's organist, who was also serving as conductor, asked.
"Where am I not coming from?" Orliński replied. "Do you need some more time?" he joked. "Because I can go somewhere and do something with my life".
Orliński began prowling around the chapel, considering the acoustics and looking for good images for Instagram. He settled on a shot of an enormous globe-shaped light fixture that loomed over the stage. Then, before starting to sing, he sat on the floor and rolled backward, rocking momentarily on his spine in order to massage his back. Standing up, he stretched his arms above his head, then bent over and touched his toes. After a run-through, he paced the stage, marking his placement, just to the right of Corti, and considering the implications for audience sight lines. "The people on that side will really suffer", he said. Looking up at the globe light, whose bulbs shone brightly, he asked, "Will these be on? Because, for sacred music it's nice if it's intimate, lower lighting".
"Anima Sacra" was eighteen months in the making and is a somewhat unusual début. Orliński might have been expected to issue a collection of famous works by Handel or Vivaldi – as did Philippe Jaroussky, an accomplished French countertenor twelve years Orliński's senior, whose breakthrough recording was a selection of Vivaldi cantatas. Instead, Orliński's album is made up largely of works that have never been recorded before, and that have languished since the eighteenth century. "I didn't want to do ‘Jakub Józef Orliński, newcomer, Best Bach, Handel, Vivaldi’, whatever", he told me, when we met one morning in Rouen. "I wanted to do something that would mean something special for me."
His goal, he explained, was to explore the kinds of work written in the early eighteenth century for choirs to perform on specific occasions, such as a dignitary's visit or a religious holiday. He was drawn not only by their spiritual atmosphere but also by their stylistic proximity to the nascent art of opera, which has roots in secular carnival. "When the festivals in Italy were finished, those composers had to work somehow, and the churches were the biggest employers", Orliński said. "So they were composing for churches, but already you can see they are operatic." The opening track on the record, "Alla gente a Dio diletta", from a 1709 oratorio by Nicola Fago, "Il Faraone Sommerso", depicts Aaron beseeching Pharaoh to free the Israelites. A video released by Warner Classics to promote the recording broadly interprets the aria's sacred import; featuring a shirtless Orliński gracefully intertwining with a female dancer, it seems to be concerned with capturing the experience of rapture, spiritual or otherwise. Orliński, who probably has no rival among contemporary classical singers for pectoral display, defends his shirt-shedding on artistic grounds. The photograph on the cover of "Anima Sacra", in which Orliński is clothed only in gauzy veils, is an allusion to Baroque marble sculptures in which figures appear to be shrouded in translucent cloth, such as the Veiled Christ in the Cappella Sansevero, in Naples.
Orliński is engagingly knowledgeable about the unusual repertoire that he has chosen to revive, though he gives much deserved credit to his friend and collaborator Yannis François, a bass-baritone from Guadeloupe whom he met in Germany in 2014, when both were performing in an opera by Telemann. François has spent the better part of a decade uncovering lost Baroque music in the archives of European monasteries and American libraries. For "Anima Sacra", he transcribed nearly sixty pieces of music, and Orliński selected the two dozen that best suited his voice or appealed to his sensibility. François, who contributed perceptive liner notes to the CD, told me that the pieces he collected "were played once, and then the next year the church used a different composer, and they were never played again". The album's selections, which trace the development of religious music in various clerical settings, from the Neapolitan school to the German church, is rigorous enough to please academically minded listeners without being the least bit dutiful. Some of the music is revelatory. One standout track is an aria from an obscure 1735 work called "Gesù al Calvario", by Jan Dismas Zelenka, the Czech composer, in which Orliński sings words ascribed to Jesus on the Cross. "Jesus is always portrayed as a bass, or maybe sometimes a tenor", Orliński explained. "But it's really rare to show him as an alto voice." He went on, "And the lyrics are incredible. It's, like, ‘Render me one repentant tear’. Oh, my God! It's, like – ‘Just give me one! And then I would be happy to die for you all!’"
Orliński's ability to conjure the emotional intensity of religious experience makes his performance of sacred music especially charged. Maxim Emelyanychev, the thirty-year-old conductor of Il Pomo d'Oro, told me, "With sacred music, there's not so much vibrato, not so much expression, but there's something inside. In opera, it's more dramatic – more coloratura, more of a need to relate to the audience. With sacred music, it's more intimate". Orliński grew up in a Catholic family, and wears a chain with a crucifix, which was given to him by a break-dancing mentor. But he considers himself to be spiritual rather than religious, and emphasizes the accessibility of his work to any listener. This makes sense not just on a personal level but also in terms of marketing: he wants his music to have as broad an appeal as possible. He said of "Anima Sacra", "You don't have to believe in God to be touched by this music. It is music speaking".
Orliński began his singing career as a member of the all-male Gregorianum choir, in Warsaw. This exposed him early to sacred music in an ecclesiastical context. He told me, "I remember that first kind of overwhelming beauty, and also kind of emotional struggle with the music, was when I was a boy alto in the choir. I heard music in the cathedral, and I was, like, ‘This is something different. This is absolutely something different’". Belonging to the choir was also fun: he went to camp for a month each summer, performing vocal exercises and playing in the forest.
In school, Orliński was a decent student, but not a particularly enthusiastic one. "I was always an active kid – I was a semi-professional skateboarder – and I didn't like the aspect of ‘Between eight and four, I need to be in this place’". When he was fourteen, he was hit by a car while crossing the street; his leg was shattered, putting an end to his skateboarding aspirations. (He no longer skates even recreationally, though he expects to get back in form for a production, next year in Rouen, of Handel's opera "Xerxes", directed by Wolfgang Katschner, the set of which incorporates a half-pipe.) Orliński was small as a boy, and his voice changed only gradually. At sixteen, he shifted from singing the boy-alto parts in the choir to joining the bass-baritones – the range in which his modal, or regular speaking, voice lies. He and some other choristers had started a small men's ensemble, and one day the group began practicing Renaissance chants that had parts for high voices. "We needed two countertenors", Orliński recalled. "Me and my friend were the youngest ones. We did a kind of lottery, but it was obvious that we were going to lose, because nobody wanted to sing high. So my friend and I started singing high."
The history of the countertenor voice, in the absence of recordings, is dependent on the sometimes ambiguous testimony of contemporaneous chroniclers. A prohibition on female singers in religious contexts meant that, for centuries, high singing parts in choral music were performed by boys, or by men who had mastered the technique of falsetto. A traveller to Venice in the early seventeenth century, Thomas Coryat, describes an encounter with a male singer, of about forty years old, who had "such a super-naturall voice for sweetnesse that I think there was never a better singer in all the world". Coryat was at pains to point out that the singer was otherwise a quite ordinary man: "I alwaies thought that he was an Eunuch, which if he had beene, it had taken away some part of my admiration, because they do most commonly sing passing well; but he was not".
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, countertenors were effectively displaced by castrati. These singers were drawn from the ranks of promising boy choristers, and had undergone a painful and risky procedure in which, typically, the ducts to the testicles were severed, averting the hormonal changes usually brought on by puberty and leaving a high-pitched voice intact. Many castrati came from modest backgrounds and were propelled into their careers by families eager for some kind of opportunity in the Catholic Church. Undergoing castration, however, was no guarantee of success. It is believed that, at one point in the first half of the eighteenth century, up to four thousand boys were being castrated every year in Italy: only a few of them developed or retained voices superlative enough to have distinguished careers.
The castrati who did make it were stratospherically successful when deployed in new music that was being written to take advantage of their voices. Castration did not otherwise influence physical maturation, so the most celebrated singers had voices that were not only extremely high and pure but also immensely strong, powered by a barrel chest and incessant training since childhood. Carlo Broschi, an Italian who went by the name Farinelli, was said to be able to hold a note for more than a minute. (Orliński recently posted on Facebook a video of himself performing a vocal exercise in which he holds a note for a mere twenty-three seconds; it feels like an eternity.) Castrati such as Farinelli, who became the personal singer for King Philip V of Spain, and Senesino, who was born around 1680 in Siena, were treated as objects of adulation when they appeared in opera houses, prompting calls of "Evviva il coltello!" – "Long live the knife!" – from audiences. The vocal feats of the greatest castrati are difficult to imagine today; Yannis François has transcribed castrato pieces that no contemporary singer he knows of could possibly perform, though he speculates that new training techniques will one day yield a countertenor voice capable of mastering them. "These pieces need the height of Mozart's Queen of the Night and the lowness of the contralto", François told me. "They were specially written for someone – perfectly made, like a glove, for a special singer."
The castration of boy singers fell into decline, though the practice persisted well into the nineteenth century, including among singers destined for choral duties in the Vatican. The only known recordings of a true castrato are of Alessandro Moreschi, who was born in 1858 and died in 1922, having spent his career in the Sistine Chapel's choir. The most famous recording, of "Ave Maria", was made in 1904, when Moreschi was past his prime; his voice, thin and reedy, sounds less blissfully celestial than tragically spectral. Even by the time Moreschi was born, the castrato voice had long since gone out of fashion in the world of opera. Although the high, powerful voices of castrati had once signified heroic masculinity, they were supplanted in that role by tenors and baritones, who began dominating the opera stage during the Classical period.
In the twentieth century, there was a renewed interest in the musical possibilities presented by high male voices, in large part because of the influence of one singer, Alfred Deller. Born in 1912, Deller sang in the cathedral at Canterbury, where he was discovered by the composer Michael Tippett, who famously remarked that, upon hearing Deller, he "felt the centuries roll back". Deller became an internationally celebrated performer, singing the compositions of Handel, Bach, and Purcell, as well as new work written especially for him. (In 1960, Benjamin Britten created the role of Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Deller in mind.) Deller's American counterpart was Russell Oberlin, who, in the fifties and sixties, acclimatized American listeners to the high male voice with his performances in the medieval "Play of Daniel" and in Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms".
After those pioneers came singers of greater virtuosity and tonal allure: René Jacobs, James Bowman, Andreas Scholl, Bejun Mehta. In the past dozen years, countertenors with ever more sophisticated technique have emerged, including Jaroussky, who showed how a countertenor could become a crossover sensation; Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will sing the title role in Philip Glass' "Akhnaten" at the Met next season; and Franco Fagioli, an Argentinean countertenor whose voice ascends to the register of a female soprano. This élite group is kept busy performing not only music that was originally composed for castrati but also new works by contemporary composers, including Thomas Adès and George Benjamin. Iestyn Davies, the accomplished British countertenor, who is Orliński's senior by a decade, told me, "We age differently than other voice types. The vocal demands of the repertoire don't change as we get older". Whereas a lyric soprano might become a Wagnerian over time, a countertenor, because of physiology and the limited music available, often sings the same roles throughout his career. Davies observed, "Jakub has been fortunate to engage so well with the world on social media. It will be fascinating to see how that impact translates into the sobriety of the classical-music world in the long run".
Orliński was largely unaware of the countertenor tradition at the outset of his singing career, and he shared in the cultural anxiety that often attends the phenomenon of male falsetto. One day, a Polish opera singer conducted a workshop with the choir, and remarked that Orliński was a countertenor. Orliński admits that he reacted as if it were an attack on his masculinity: "I was, like, ‘What? Are you trying to offend me?’"
When Orliński was eighteen, he was accepted at Fryderyk Chopin University, the famed conservatory in Warsaw, despite having little background in the history or the theory of music. "I came from the street", he told me, with slight exaggeration, when we met in May in Luxembourg City, where the "Erismena" production from Aix was being presented. As a child, Orliński had completed a few years of piano lessons, but he had relied mostly on his ear to learn, and had trouble reading scores. His singing technique was still undeveloped. He recalled, "For the first two years, I sounded horrible – like a kid who starts playing violin, and it is not in tune, and you feel the struggle". School performances were an unsettling experience, for both performer and audience. "The Polish public was not prepared to hear men singing high, so sometimes you would get these weird looks", he said. Orliński's break-dancing crew was similarly taken aback by his singing voice. Andy Sepioł, a computer programmer who dances with Orliński, told me that, initially, he didn't trust his ears: "At first, I was really amazed – I had to make sure that it was really him". But Orliński quickly came to feel that his countertenor voice was his natural voice, even though it is much higher than his speaking voice. "I felt much better singing as a countertenor", he told me. "This is how I know – if I feel something, I can express it with this voice, not the other one. It is more flexible, and I can find more colors, and do more things." For one performance at school, Orliński invited Sepioł and another breaker onstage, and danced with them before singing.
Orliński shared a depressing dorm room with Michał Biel, a Polish pianist with whom he now often performs. "It was literally six square metres, with a bunk bed, and you could not even open the window, because you were on a high floor and it is forbidden in America", Orliński recalled. There was little opportunity to explore or enjoy the city, both because New York was expensive and because the demands of the classroom were so intense: each evening, Orliński could be found in the practice room until midnight. Wiens told me, "He was learning these new things that needed to be put into the body. He needed time to translate the information into his whole self".
Despite the unearthly quality of the countertenor voice, it is a product not of divine intervention but of training: a singer reaches the falsetto range by lengthening and stretching the muscles within his vocal folds so that only their edges are engaged, thus elevating the pitch. The quality of a countertenor's voice, as well as his vocal range, does depend on natural gifts, however, and, while studying at Juilliard, Orliński learned what he was capable of and what he wasn't. For a countertenor, Orliński has a voice that does not go especially high. Early in his studies, he told me, he strained to reach a screechy high B flat, and thought that his "brain was going to explode". These days, he won't go much beyond a high F sharp – on "Anima Sacra", the note can be heard in "Mea tormenta, properate", a furious 1758 piece by the German composer Johann Hasse. Generally, though, Orliński has amassed a repertoire that does not reach for the exorbitant. Rather, he concentrates on further developing his vocal strengths: the marbled fullness of his tone; the uncanny smoothness with which he moves from the lower register of his voice to the higher. "I have pieces that I would love to do, but I know that for now I am just too young", he told me. "I can sing them, but it's not about singing the right notes. I know that my voice is still growing, and in a few years I will be ready to sing, for example, Handel's ‘Orlando’ in a way that I will be satisfied."
Biel said of Orliński, "His countertenor is very specific, because it is a low-alto male voice, which he mixes a lot with the chest register, so he sounds very masculine". Unlike some countertenors, Orliński does not sing female roles from Baroque opera, even though those roles were often written for castrati rather than for women, who were largely absent from the operatic stage during that period. Orliński's forthcoming CD, "Facce d'Amore" – "Faces of Love" – will feature Baroque operatic arias that were written for romantic male characters. Seven of the tracks are first-time recordings, courtesy of Yannis François.
The rising popularity of countertenors reflects the ongoing cultural acceptance of – and fascination with – gender fluidity. The unexpectedness of the countertenor voice is one more way in which stereotypes of masculinity and femininity can be brought into question. When performing sacred arias, Orliński offers a version of masculinity that is nurturing and embracing – characteristics more often associated with the feminine and the maternal. "Jakub's voice has purity and sensuality, with the wonderful ability to comfort and empathize", Wiens told me. "Often people are in some kind of need in an audience, and we go in willing to be touched where we need to be touched." Orliński also has the confidence to inspire admiration. In Luxembourg, he told me that, while waiting in the wings during the previous night's performance of "Erismena", he had what he called a "blackout". He said, "I am about to go onstage to do my first entrance, and I have no idea at all what I am going to sing. There are no words – there is nothing. So I just say to myself, ‘But I feel fantastic! My voice works well. I am going to trust myself. I know it by heart – it's going to happen’. So I jump over the chair – and suddenly it is there".
Orliński likes to explore the cities in which he performs, often seeking out sites of interest with help from his opera fans or his break-dancing friends. When I met him in Luxembourg, he was disappointed not to have seen the city's excellent skate park. While in Rouen, Orliński took time to visit the cathedral, which dates to the twelfth century, and posted photographs of it on Instagram; he also posted images of his dressing room and his preparations at the mirror. "I have this goal to bring new people to classical music, and, I have to say, it works", he explained when we met. "Like newcomers telling me afterward, ‘This is my first time and I loved it, and I went only because I saw your Instagram and it was showing this kind of life style’". He likes the way his followers track his peregrinations and suggest restaurants to try or sights to see, though accessibility has its downside. "People send very inappropriate things online – they just show up and you have no way to unsee them", he told me. "For the longest time it was mostly men, but now something's changed there. It's crazy."
A capacity crowd of six hundred people filled the Chapelle Corneille on the first night of Orliński's engagement there – and, as expected, there was an unusually high proportion of young concertgoers. Orliński bounded onstage from the wings, dressed in his Hugo Boss suit, which he had paired with a white open-necked shirt, bright-red socks, and patent-leather shoes of improbably high shine. (He once attended a master class, in Germany, in which an opera singer warned that the eye level of an audience member is often at the foot level of the performer, and Orliński has never forgotten the singer's injunction to pay particular attention to footwear.) A square of red cloth peeped from Orliński's pocket, and his curly hair – which he had been unable to get cut in Warsaw, for lack of time – had been tamed, somewhat, by product.
The audience gave an enthusiastic reception to Orliński, who bowed, then gathered himself to sing. The first piece, "Alma Redemptoris Mater", a 1726 work by the German composer Johann David Heinichen, began in a manner typical of an aria written for a castrato: the score indicates that the singer should improvise a showy cadenza within the first two bars of the vocal part, as the orchestra waits for him to demonstrate his prowess. Orliński's cadenza began on an A, his voice rising like a peal of bells up to a high F and then descending, with a trill, to the F an octave lower. Like Farinelli before him, he was showing off – but he did so with a modesty appropriate to sacred music.
Throughout the evening, Orliński sang some well-known pieces, such as Vivaldi's mournful "Stabat Mater", but he also incorporated some of the new discoveries that Yannis François had made, such as "Tam non splendet sol creatus", by Nicola Fago. In this joyful hymn to the Nativity, Orliński's voice swelled with a deceptively simple sweetness as he sang about summoning the shepherds to the Adoration.
The program notes indicated that the performance would last ninety minutes, but by the time Orliński performed his first encore, Fago's voluptuous "Alla gente a Dio diletta", and then returned to the stage for his second – the short and vigorous "Domine Fili unigenite", by Francesco Durante – nearly two hours had passed. Orliński, having apologized for his inability to speak French, addressed the audience in English. "We are going to do one final encore", he said, spinning on his heels left and right as he turned to face those members of the audience who were seated to the sides of the stage, in a gesture of intimate inclusiveness. "It's a very unknown piece by Vivaldi." Then, settling himself in place by the organist, and dropping his shoulders with an exhalation, he reached up to unbutton his jacket, raised his head, and lifted his voice.
Published in the print edition of the July 22, 2019, issue, with the headline "The Voice".
Jakub Józef Orliński photographed by Pablo Sáez for the Esquire Spain's December 2019 issue. In charge of styling was Álvaro de Juan, who for the session selected looks from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Prada, Dries Van Noten, Loewe and more. Hair styling and make-up by Ricardo Calero.
George Frideric Handel: Messiah (1754 version) – Jakub Józef Orliński, Sunhae Im, Samuel Boden, José Antonio López, Warsaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Martin Haselböck (4K Ultra High Definition)
“Facce d'amore” – New album from Jakub Józef Orliński
George Frideric Handel: Rodelinda – Jeanine De Bique, Tim Mead, Benjamin Hulett, Avery Amereau, Jakub Józef Orliński, Andrea Mastroni – Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm (HD 1080p)
Francesco Cavalli: Erismena – Francesca Aspromonte, Carlo Vistoli, Susanna Hurrell, Jakub Józef Orliński, Alexander Miminoshvili, Lea Desandre, Andrea Vincenzo Bonsignore, Stuart Jackson, Tai Oney, Jonathan Abernethy – Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón (HD 1080p)
“Anima Sacra” – Jakub Józef Orliński, Il Pomo d'Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev – Live at Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne, November 16, 2018
Jakub Józef Orliński: "I have already jumped over all of my dreams"
Enemies in Love | George Frideric Handel – Jakub Józef Orliński, Natalia Kawałek, Il Giardino d'Amore, Stefan Plewniak
Jakub Józef Orliński: A star is rising in the world of opera