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René Jacobs

With more than 260 recordings to his credit and an intensive career as singer, conductor, scholar and teacher, René Jacobs has achieved an eminent position in the field of Baroque and Classical vocal music. He received his early musical education as a choirboy at the cathedral of his native city of Ghent. Alongside his advanced studies of Classics at the University of Ghent, he continued to study singing. His encounters with Alfred Deller, Gustav Leonhardt and the Kuijken brothers were to determine his orientation towards Baroque music and specializing as countertenor, in which he very soon established his reputation as one of the most prominent singers of his time. In 1977 he founded the ensemble Concerto Vocale and explored the 17th century vocal chamber music and operatic repertoire and began to make a series of most innovative recordings for Harmonia Mundi (many of them “World Première” recordings), all of which won awards from the international press.

In 1983, the production of Cesti’s L’Orontea at the Innsbruck Early Music Festival marked his debut as opera conductor. His long and successful collaborations with the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden since 1992, Theater an der Wien (Vienna) since 2006, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris), Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals, touring projects in USA, Japan and China have led him to conduct from Early Baroque to Rossini and from most unknown to most famous opera titles. At the same time, performing sacred music and oratorio on a regular basis alongside to his prominent operatic activity has always been a very important part of his career.

Elected Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Ghent, René Jacobs has received the most outstanding prizes from international music critics such as Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Grammophone, Caecilia, Edison, Midem International Classical Awards, Académie Charles Cros, International Opera Awards and a Grammy as best opera for his recording of Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro. His recent recording of J.S. Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion (Echo Klassik Award 2014 in Germany) was acclaimed as “making reference” in the recording history of this masterwork and all of his Mozart operas have been internationally celebrated as the most remarkable for his unconventional approach, his unique fusion of painstaking scholarship and musical instinct (“René Jacobs’s Mozart opera series are one of the recorded marvels of our time”- Gramophone, February 2009). His latest recordings are including Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail published in September 2015 (Caecilia award for the best opera in 2015) and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Saint John Passion (released in March 2016).

René Jacobs has been the artistic director of the Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik from 1996 to 2009. Long a professor at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, he has maintained a privileged relationship with this institution where he trained many singers who now appear in leading international venues.