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"Power Voice with Artistic Talent"

The singer Andreas Jaeggi also likes to sketch a cool pop art still life every so often.

Andreas Jaeggi from Basel (Switzerland) exercises two professions at the same time: he is a classical opera and concert singer and a visual artist. This is only made possible thanks to the relentless support of his life partner Ron Rubey.

Multiple talents who are simultaneously opera singers and painters as well as sculptural object artists cannot be found on every street corner. At the address Tiergartenrain 5, we do meet Andreas Jaeggi who is one of these multifaceted talents to whom art and life are an inseparable unity.

One can feel this when visiting his elegant Art Deco apartment: not only will you find selected pieces of furniture and a piano with musical scores but, above all, you will discover many paintings and sculptures which the artist has created over several decades. After giving us a sample of his vocal power, we become totally immersed in the fascinating world of music and art.

His love for art has been put into the cradle, so to speak, when Andreas Jaeggi was born in 1952. His mother was an artist (painter), his father was a publisher and later became the owner of the distinguished Jaeggi bookstores in Basel and Bern (Switzerland). Flute lessons and studies at the Basel Art & Design School during the 1970s laid the basic foundation of solid craftmanship upon which Jaeggi's enormous creativity has been built. Already as a 22 year old, he began to design costumes and stage sets for the Parisian music theatre company "Compagnie Alain Germain".

Classical Opera and Concerts

Andreas Jaeggi says he came towards singing through sheer coincidence. An apartment neighbour remarked once that he could draw very well but that he could sing even better. Encouraged by this, Jaeggi enrolled at the music conservatory where he was immediately welcomed and soon enough, he was asked to sing his first Bach cantata as a tenor. He then studied for several years with the world renowned classical opera singer Maria Stader perfecting his vocal skills and for three decades now, he continues to excell as a soloist and character performer in the field of opera and classical concerts.

His powerful voice and his acting abilities quickly brought him yearly contracts in various German opera houses. At the Osnabrueck Opera House, 25 years ago, he met the American dancer Ron Rubey who became his life partner. Thanks only to this harmonic partnership and collaboration, Jaeggi insists with emphasis, is it possible for him to live out his inclination towards and love of singing and the visual arts to the fullest.

In the musical field, Jaeggi recently signed two new contracts with the National Opera of Paris (France) for the future opera productions of "Salome" by Richard Strauss and "Billy Budd" by Benjamin Britten (*). Before then, he will be heard and seen as Doktor Blind in Johann Strauss' operetta "Die Fledermaus" at the Amsterdam Opera House during the 2008/09 season.

(* Andreas Jaeggi's next production at the Bastille will take place in 2009 when he will be portraying Goro in "Madama Butterfly" by Puccini with staging by Robert Wilson.)

Art and Visual Work

Despite all his success as a singer, Andreas Jaeggi admits very openly that the visual arts are actually the center of his life. In drawing, painting and sculpting, he presumably finds the space and freedom which allows him to fully live out his creative urges. The artist knows how to express his experiences and feelings in many different ways: in pop art still lifes, impressionistic urban landscapes or in surrealistically inspired figures made of clay and two-component resin.

One of Jaeggi's particularities are the slightly ironical estranged versions of works by the old masters. For instance, he completely and unabashedly copies a portrait of Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne from the 17th century and replaces the cardinal's head with his own head and face. Similarly, he has created a series of drawings where – instead of Leonardo's Mona Lisa – he inserts such famous heads as Einstein, Mother Teresa and even Donald Duck. Through this procedure he succeeds without any doubt in enhancing the symbolic power of these figures in a very personal way.

In the year 2001, Andreas Jaeggi and Ron Rubey started to organise exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad in order to present the works to a broader audience. "Through these exhibitions we were able to collect valuable experiences. By the end of 2007, we decided to interrupt all exhibition activities for the time being," says Jaeggi. This undoubtedly to reflect on the past and to find time to create new works that art lovers can look forward to discovering with curiosity and anticipation in the future.

By Renate Duerst for Basler Zeitung


Top Photo: "Exchange. Andreas Jaeggi in front of his portrait of Richelieu in which he has replaced the cardinal's head with his own likeness."
Photos by Lea Hepp (photos not free of copyright)