January 6, 1867 in Hergenrath, Rhine Province – June 6, 1935 in Noordwijk, Netherlands
Urlus had an enormous voice. 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 on contract until 1914. During this period, his fame started to spread. He appeared in He was tremendously successful and also appeared as Adolar (Weber, Euryanthe), 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. 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.
The most versatile tenor in vocal history
A selection of his opera repertory: Lohengrin, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rienzi, Der fliegende Holländer, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Iphigenie auf Tauris, Der Freischütz, Die Rose vom Liebesgarten, Der arme Heinrich, Fidelio, Der Barbier von Bagdad, Oberon, Euryanthe, Salome, Tiefland, Carmen, Joseph (Méhul), La Juive, La Navarraise, Le Cid, Samson, Les Huguenots, L’Africaine, Le Prophète, La Muette de Portici, Faust, Aida, Otello, I Pagliacci (Canio and Beppe), Il Trovatore, Cavalleria rusticana, Mme Butterfly, Louise…
A small selection of his concert repertory: Das Lied on der Erde, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Das klagende Lied, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, St. Matthew Passion (Evangelist), Die vier Jahreszeiten, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9…
“The new tenor, Jacques Urlus, scored a triumph as Siegfried, and his splendid reception was fully justified. Not since the vanished days of Jean de Reszke has any artist at the Metropolitan conveyed the illusion of the hero so successfully. When he demanded of its full power, as in the song of the forge in the first act, it was brillant and vibrant…there were passages that were sung with greatest beauty of tone and justness of declamation.”
Musical Courier – New York American – The New York Times (after a performance of Siegfried in February, 1913)
Jacques Urlus was a contemporary of Enrico Caruso, a personal friend and colleague with whom he shared a dressing room at the New York Metropolitan for five years.