PORTRAITS - occasional portraits of classical music subjects

Jakub Józef Orliński


ANETT FODOR writes about the
Polish counter tenor and his latest album


Despite his youth, the twenty-nine-year-old Polish opera singer, Jakub Józef Orliński has been the worthy laureate of numerous international prizes. Amongst many others to his credit, he was awarded the prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award in the Gramophone Awards of October 2019.

You could say that he launched into the international musical scene and stimulated public awareness at the same moment! In the summer of 2017, both Orliński and his accompanist appeared in flip-flops and shorts in one of France Musique's online streaming programmes. The young singer claims that they believed the engagement was a radio broadcast. Despite their very casual attire, or perhaps because of it, this footage became a roaring success. The video, in which Orliński sings Vivaldi's Vedro con mio diletto, has had an amazing high rating: nearly five million views since 2017!

Facce d'Amore - Jakub Józef Orliński. UPC 0190295423384. © 2019 Parlophone Records
Facce d'Amore - Jakub Józef Orliński. UPC 0190295423384. © 2019 Parlophone Records

Orliński's second solo album, Facce d'Amore (Faces of Love), was released in November 2019. Its arias span eighty-five years of the Baroque era. Eight of the eighteen on the CD are world premieres, never having been previously recorded. In addition to Handel, Cavalli and Alessandro Scarlatti, lesser known composers such as Orlandini, Predieri and Matteis are featured. Love has been an evergreen topic for many composers and artists throughout the centuries. Rather unusually, Orliński chose to express not just its beauty, but also its darker side with the pain and anguish that can bring.

His extraordinary singing technique and sense of style illustrate the rich and varied colours of his voice. His masterful acting ability shines on the stage and concert platform yet is just as evident in his recordings; every word of the text is articulated into life by it. His Baroque style is exemplary: ornamentation is vital yet always tasteful and illustrates the flexibility and ethereal qualities of his voice. His sostenuti are captivating!

In this recording, directed by Maxim Emelyanichev, it's as though Orliński and the whole ensemble breathe as one. All of the musicians are eminent Baroque players and guests of well-renowned concert halls.

My favourite aria on this CD is Pena tiranna from Handel's opera, Amadigi di Gaula (1715). Filmed in a contemporary setting, this brilliant video was released online by Warner Classics. Its rating broke records: within slightly more than two months, half a million people had seen it.

Amadigi (the legendary warrior of Charles the Great), Oriana, the sourceress Melissa and Dardano are involved in a complicated love plot. Oriana has abandoned Dardano (Orliński) for Amadigi and will no longer return his advances. Obsessed by her, Dardano is granted the ability to transform his appearance into that of Amadigi by Melissa's magic spells. He metamorphoses into 'Amadigi' and takes his rival's place so that he can, thus disguised, continue his passion for her.

Listen — Handel: Pena tiranna (Amadigi di Gaula)
(Facce d'Amore track 11, 3:36-4:20) © 2019 Parlophone Records :

Orliński has been a successful fashion model as well as a talented break dancer - not the usual prelude to the career of a successful counter tenor! He says that stage directors with whom he has worked recently have appreciated his acrobatic prowess. A winner of several dance competitions, he has thus been able include dance in some recent productions. His dream is to be part of a 'hip-opera', an amalgam in which both Baroque music and breakdance could be blended together. Through such an event, he would like to promote opera to young people.

Jakub Józef Orliński. Photo © 2017 Jiyang Chen
Jakub Józef Orliński. Photo © 2017 Jiyang Chen

I keep my fingers crossed for him.

Copyright © 30 January 2020 Anett Fodor,
Győr-Moson-Sopron, Hungary





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