Also known as:
|Don José / Carmen|
|Previous scene:||Attends un peu, Carmen|
|Next scene:||Hola! Carmen!|
The great Dutch Heldentenor Jacques Urlus (1867-1935) in Don Jose's aria "La fleur que tu m'avais jetee" (Flower Song) from Bizet's Carmen (sung in German), recorded on 12 March 1912 for Gramophone Co..
The following biographical notes come from "Subito-Cantabile: A Site for Collectors of Great Singers of the Past" ("He was born in Hergenrath near Aix-la-Chapelle (German-Belgium border), to Dutch parents. Urlus spent his early years in Tilburg and Utrecht where he worked in a steel mill and sang in a local choir. When doing his military service, his voice was discovered by an Officer who offered to cover the costs for his vocal-training which, Urlus to his regret, was unable to accept since it would have left him without any regular income. 1892 was the turning point when Urlus met the director of the Dutch National Opera House. Without having received any regular vocal training he made his debut in Amsterdam, as Beppe in I Pagliacci on September 20, 1894. Afterwards he was taught interpretation by Cornelie van Zanten, Anton Averkamp and Hugo Nolthenius. As far as his vocal technique was concerned, he was largely self-taught! In 1898 Jacques Urlus was invited to Bayreuth to restudy his repertory of Wagner operas in German (he had previously sung all his roles in Dutch), but he left Bayreuth prematurely and Siegfried Wagner did not re-engage him until 1914! Nevertheless, by the turn of the century he had become the leading heroic tenor at the Leipzig Opera House where he was contracted until 1914. During this period his fame started to spread. He appeared in Berlin, Vienna and London. In 1912 he made his debut as Tristan at the Met (the first performance was a nightmare for him because he had to sing despite a severe cold). In the following performances he was tremendously successful and also appeared as Adolar, Samson and Tamino.
He sang all his roles in at least three languages; Dutch, German and the actual original language! He was among those few Wagner singers who were able to preserve their international fame throughout the War years. In 1922 he returned to the United States with Hurok's German Opera Troupe, his comeback at Covent Garden took place in 1924. At the age of 63, he appeared for the first time at the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona, as Tristan! His performances at the Amsterdam Opera House were celebrated gala-events. He was one of the first singers at the Zoppot Wagner Festival where he was heard as Tristan opposite an outstanding cast including Helene Wildbrunn, Margarethe Arndt-Ober and Otto Helgers. In Berlin he was not only celebrated as an opera singer but also as an accomplished concert singer. He appeared in concerts conducted by Willem Mengelberg, Arthur Nikisch and Erich Kleiber among others. When Jacques Urlus died in Noordwijk the Dutch Nation mourned for him like for a national hero.
Lauritz Melchior and Jacques Urlus are considered the greatest "Heldentenors" in history of records. Remarkable is Urlus' declamation with the right intensity yet without sacrificing a good legato style. In my opinion, he is unique in this respect. What he did not possess was the heroic ring of Melchior's top notes, and his singing may not have been of a similar passion and spontaneity compared to that of the Danish tenor (on records, at least).
His voice was a fully developped dramatic tenor. The dark, almost baritonal quality of the lower range predestined him for Wagner's heros, but as we know, he suceeded in many other roles from the German, French and Italian repertoire.
Jacques Urlus made about 150 recordings from 1903 - 1924. All of them are impressive and instructive models of their kind. Because of this very rare combination of vocal power and refinement, Jacques Urlus ranks among the greatest singers."
La fleur que tu m'avais jetée,
Dans ma prison m'était restée,
Flétrie et sèche, cette fleur
Gardait toujours sa douce odeur;
Et pendant des heures entières,
Sur mes yeux fermant mes paupières
De cette odeur je m'enivrais
Et dans la nuit je te voyais.
Je me prenais à te maudire
À te détester, à me dire:
Pourquoi faut-il que le destin
L'ait mise là sur mon chemin?
Puis je m'accusais de blasphème
Et je ne sentais en moi-même
Qu'un seul désir, un seul espoir,
Te revoir, ô Carmen, oui te revoir! …
Car tu n'avais eu qu'à paraître,
Qu'à jeter un regard sur moi
Pour t'emparer de tout mon être,
Ô ma Carmen.
Et j'étais une chose à toi.
Carmen, je t'aime!
The flower you had thrown at me
In my prison I had stayed,
Withered and dry, this flower
Always kept its sweet smell;
And for hours,
On my eyes closing my eyelids
From this smell I would get drunk
And in the night I saw you.
I began to curse you
To hate you, to tell me:
Why must destiny
Put it there on my way?
Then I blamed myself for blasphemy
And I did not feel in myself
Only one desire, one hope,
To see you again, O Carmen, yes, see you again! ...
Because you had only to appear,
What to take a look at me
To take hold of all my being,
O my Carmen.
And I was a thing of you.
Carmen, I love you!