Urlus was born as the son of Dutch parents in what was then German Hergenrath and grew up in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Although his musical talent was recognized early, he had to earn his living first as a worker in a steel factory and could not accept the offer to study at the Conservatory in Brussels.
Therefore, he was actually a self-taught when he on 20 September 1894 - after all, already with 27 years - debuted in Amsterdam, where he made a great development in the coming years. In subsequent years, he first guested at various Dutch opera houses and was especially known as Lohengrin.
In 1898 he sang for the first time as a guest in Germany - several performances of Lohengrin and Tannhäuser at the Opera House Hannover. This earned him an invitation to sing Cosima Wagner, the composer's widow and strict ruler of the Bayreuth Festival for an engagement the following year in Bayreuth. Although he specially learned this his Wagnerian roles in German, Urlus was not engaged.
Nevertheless, he did not give up hope and leaned even - although now the father of three children - a very well -doped offer the Frankfurt Opera for a multi-year commitment from hard, because the contract did not provide for the possibility of exemption for the period of the festival. Instead, he initially returned to Holland.
From 1900 to 1914 he was then first tenor of the Leipzig Opera, but began this commitment during a lively guest performances throughout Europe, including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, Munich, Vienna, Berlin.
1911 and 1912 was fulfilled but still Urlus ' dream of the Bayreuth Festival.
The evening was a scandal and disaster for the singer because Urlus despite a severe cold occurred and voice failed him in the second act, so that he could only act dumb in the third act. All the greater was the triumph when he three days later - healthy again - appeared as Siegfried. By 1917, he was the leading Wagner tenor of the MET. Only the entry of the United States into the First World War ended this commitment, because then for several years in particular, the works of Wagner were frowned upon in the United States.
Urlus returned back to Leipzig, where he but still took great concert tours including the first time in Scandinavia. By the end of his career, he performed regularly in his Dutch homeland.
Founded in 1922 Wagner Festival at the Sopot Forest Opera had in him one of their large draft horses that made it a serious competitor for the Bayreuth Festival.
It was not until the age of 64 he retired permanently from the stage - for health reasons, not because of his voice, it would have required.
When Jacques Urlus died four years later, grieving over Holland to him as a national hero and the rest of the opera world for one of their favorite singers.
Although he had a very wide range of repertoire, which in the St. Matthew Passion by Bach also included the evangelists as Haydn's Seasons, Mozart's Tamino, Italian ( spinto ) such roles as Manrico in Il Trovatore and Radames in Aida by Verdi, French as Don José in Carmen and the entire German specialist of Fidelio to Freischütz, he was primarily the leading heroic tenor of his time.
He was the counterpart to the typical heavy German heroic tenors of his time, an elegant, intelligent singer with Italian vocal technique. Due to these outstanding technique kept his voice even at an advanced age their soft luster and quality, so that they, still fresh sound even in the 1920s, when the singer was in her mid 50. Even with over 60 years he has been hailed as Tristan.
Today Urlus is considered one of the greatest heroes tenors of the 20th century.