London and Juan Diego FlórezEdit
Between 23 October and 11 November, 2008 Juan Diego Flórez will be at Covent Garden Opera House performing the lead tenor role Corradino in Matilde Di Shabran by Gioachino Rossini. It was with brilliant bel canto singing in 1996 in the same "Matilde di Shabran" in Pesaro - Rossini's birthplace - that JDF first came to fame and "then shot to worldwide stardom" 
A Wagner purist will find, perhaps, Rossini a trifle lightweight, even melodramatic, easy-on-the-ear and operetta rather than opera. However if that were the case, JDF's performances have by now lifted Rossini from the lightweight to the heavyweight and (in the opinion of the ROH) Flórez is now the "Rossini tenor of choice".
It's a reasonable certainty that virtually all Peruvians and Peruvianists (even if usually you are a R&B fanatic!)will be enamoured with this combination of Rossini and Flórez. [The cheaper ranges of tickets are still available - delete after Oct 23]. And the running time is 3 hours 45 minutes with one interval. Additionally if you need more inside information, for £6 (students) you can attend the background event which "provides an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the opera from a variety of entertaining and knowledgeable speakers. The background to the production is discussed. Opera events may include discussion about the piece with the Director, Conductor and/or cast members, and sometimes practical sessions. Tuesday 14 October, 7.30-9.30pm Tickets £14 (£6 students)." Apply via website - http://www.roh.org.uk/ or at Covent Garden Opera Hous (one block from tube station of same name).
It is a tribute to the Peruvian tenor that the ROH promotion of this opera depends on the reputation of JDF. "The name Juan Diego Flòrez is enough to make this new production unmissable" proclaim the billboards!
Juan Diego Flórez was born in Lima, Peru on January 13, 1973. His father, Rubén Flórez, was a guitarist and singer of Peruvian popular music. His mother worked in a pub where music was performed live. When a musician was ill Juan would sing instead. It was good experience for him.
He entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Lima at the age of 17. He was intending to have a career in popular music. His teacher Andrés Santa María found that he had a superb voice for classical music. He became a member of the Coro Nacional of Peru and sang as a soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass and Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle.
He was given a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he studied from 1993 to 1996 and began singing in student opera productions. He sang roles in operas by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. During this period, he also studied with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. In 1994 the Peruvian tenor, Ernesto Palacio invited him to Italy to work on a recording of Vicente Martín y Soler's opera Il Tutore Burlato. Palacio became Flórez's teacher and helped him an enormous amount in his career.
For photos of JDF go to Ernesto Palacio's website http://www.ernestopalacio.com/Florez_ing.htm
1996 - presentEdit
Flórez's first big breakthrough came in 1996, at the Rossini Festival in the Italian city of Pesaro, Rossini's birthplace. At the age of 23, he was asked to sing the leading tenor role in Matilde di Shabran when Bruce Ford became ill. He first sang at La Scala in the same year as the Chevalier danois in Gluck's Armide. His Covent Garden debut followed in 1997 where he sang the role of Count Potoski in the world premiere of Donizetti's Elisabetta. Debuts followed at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1999 as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2002, again as Count Almaviva. On February 20 2007, the opening night of Donizetti's La Fille du régiment at La Scala, Flórez broke the theater's 74-year-old tradition of not having any encores when he repeated the aria "Ah! mes amis" with its nine high C's after the audience gave him an enormous ovation.
Flórez sing in concerts in Europe, North America, and South America. Amongst the many places in which he has given concerts and recitals are the Wigmore Hall in London, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Teatro Segura in Lima, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. As a change from the usual music he sings, he sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Broadway musical Carousel at the Berlin Live 8 concert in 2005.
He was signed by Decca in 2001 and since then made 5 CDs for them. Nearly all his operatic roles have been broadcast on radio or television.
Flórez was married to German-born Julia Trappe in a private civil ceremony on April 23, 2007 in Vienna. They held a religious ceremony at the Basilica Cathedral in Lima on April 5, 2008. Some of Peru's most famous people went, including President Alan García and author Mario Vargas-Llosa.
Awards and distinctionsEdit
Juan Diego Flórez has won many awards and distinction, including Peru's highest honour: the Gran Cruz de la Orden del Sol del Perú. He has even appeared on a Peruvian stamp.
A tenor who has set the world alightEdit
“And now we give you a tenor who has set the world alight not only with his legendary high-C’s but also with the passion and breadth of his interpretations. He has starred in all the world’s major opera houses and has worked with the greatest conductors of our age. Would you please welcome Juan Diego Florez”. It was with this introduction that the London audience welcomed JDF to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall.
For this review of the music of Juan Diego Florez for the Minka Diario de Londres Peruvian news-sheet edited in London, it seems entirely appropriate to begin at the musical heart of London - which for this writer lies in or near the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. (The Royal College of Music faces the south side of the Hall and on the North rises the imperious and sparklingly restored Albert Memorial). In this recording Juan Diego sings Granada and the performance amidst an encircling audience at the Albert Hall simulates for us – perhaps with a little imagination - the atmosphere of the Andalucian bull-ring. The introductory welcome gives a flavour of the reverence in which the Peruvian tenor is already held over here in the United Kingdom. For us any concert given by an artist from the Andean countries of South America reminds us of the momentous October 12, 1992 concert which first brought the Peruvian scissor dancers, led by violinist (Andean fiddle) Maximo Damien, to England.
The notes to this recording of JDF state (September 11, 2007) that this is a BEL CANTO SPECTACULAR - http://www.juandiegoflorez.com/belcanto and that this was the “last (latest would be the better word) production of the incredible Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez” and that “Juan Diego Florez canta “Granada” by Agustin Lara - alta definicion audio video”
Romeo and Juliet in Hyde Park LondonEdit
One of the most popular arias from Gounod's opera Romeo and Juliet is sung by JDF in Hyde Park on the "Last night of the 2007 Proms". Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks in the centre of London and situated across Knightsbridge from the Royal Albert Hall (see above). For lovers of bel canto singing this occasion was divine. Hyde Park here is being used as a 'big screen' annexe to the Albert Hall (as is sometimes done when demand justifies) On the last night of the Promenade Concerts much of the world plugs in, via television, to this joyous celebration of the ending of one of the largest and longest annual music festivals on earth and to the unofficial closure of the London Summer music scene. The "last night" is also good-humouredly patriotic which again the rest of the world (curiously) does not seem to mind.
Clip 3 Mozart controversiallyEdit
This lovely song by Mozart "Ridente la calma" was thought by some to be unsuitable for JDF's register. The recording has a fuzzy quality independent of the "voice" issue. Others go so far as to maintain that singing these cameos by Mozart could actually ruin JDF's voice. Well, it hasn't done, so why should Mozart buffs / aficionados be deprived of the Florez magic applied to their beloved composer. The piece is short, simple and sweet. Mozart however is supposedly pre-romantic, pre bel canto and implicitly stoccato-esque.
Clip 4 Verdi's RigolettoEdit
A comparatively rare appearance of JDF in a Verdi opera from Dresden June 21, 2008. The duet from Rigoletto allows us to hear JDF alongside the glorious Diana Damrau before (below) wondering what would have happened if coach Santa Maria at the Conservatoire in Lima had not been successful and Juan Diego had, as originally intended, become a popular singer. Could he have brought Peruvian criolla music, Andean Yaravi's and the hottest chicha music to the world stage?
Clip 5 JDF in Bellini's I PuritaniEdit
Juan Diego Florez in a scene from Bellini's I Puritani. (No high F's). With Mariola Cantarero. Las Palmas, 2004.
Clip 6 JDF in 1989Edit
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Huayno compuesto por Juan Diego FlorezEdit
This "huayno" (in the style of the Peruvian dance from the Andes) was composed by Juan Diego for the Christmas concert in Vienna 22 December, 2006. Choir: The Vienna Boys Choir.
Flor de la CanelaEdit
El grandioso cantante lírico peruano Juan Diego Flórez interpretando un clásico de Chabuca Granda. JDF is beginning to be seen as a succesor to Pavarotti. (La Scala Milan - pos.)
- ↑ Royal Opera House (ROH) programme notes.
- ↑ The promotion material continues: Now Flórez’s stunning performance and a new Pesaro staging, with period costume, come to The Royal Opera, complemented by a galaxy of star singers under the baton of Carlo Rizzi. The music has all the classic exuberance of early Rossini, written in 1821 yet until recently an all-but-forgotten masterpiece. The plot is melodramatic with its tongue firmly and deliberately in its cheek, and the sheer virtuosity of the vocal writing runs throughout the beautiful contrasts of solos and ensembles – especially fine for the Act I conclusion. All this makes for one of the most exciting of evenings possible with Rossini and The Royal Opera. It’s an early highlight of the whole Season and essential for all lovers of bel canto opera. Credits: Composer - Gioachino Rossini; Director - Mario Martone; Set Designs - Sergio Tramonti; Costume Designs - Ursula Patzak; Conductor - Carlo Rizzi; Matilde di Shabran - Aleksandra Kurzak; Corradino - Juan Diego Flórez; Raimondo - Mark Beesley . . .