Juan Diego Flórez

Juan Diego Flórez

Juan Diego Flórez (born January 13, 1973 in Lima, Peru) is a Peruvian operatic tenor, particularly known for his roles in bel canto operas. On June 4, 2007, he received his country's highest decoration, the "Gran Cruz de la Orden del Sol del Perú". [ 'Tenor Juan Diego Flórez es ejemplo para la juventud y expresión del orgullo peruano, afirma Jefe de Estado Presidencia de la República del Perú', [http://www.presidencia.gob.pe Presidencia de la República del Perú Nota de Prensa Nº 581] , 4 June 2007.]


Early years

Juan Diego Flórez was born in Lima, Peru on January 13, 1973 where his father, Rubén Flórez, was a noted guitarist and singer of Peruvian popular and "criolla" music. In an interview in the Peruvian newspaper "Ojo", Flórez recounted his early days when his mother managed a pub with live music and he worked as a replacement singer whenever the main attraction called in sick. "It was a tremendous experience for me, since most of those who were regulars at the pub were of a certain age, so I had to be ready to sing anything from huaynos to Elvis Presley music and, in my mind, that served me a great deal because, in the final analysis, any music that is well structured - whether it is jazz, opera, or pop - is good music". ['Cantaba huaynos, rock y temas de Elvis', "Ojo", 5 June 2006]

Initially intending to pursue a career in popular music, he entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Lima at the age of 17. His classical voice emerged in the course of his studies there under Maestro Andrés Santa María. During this time, 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 received a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he studied from 1993 to 1996 and began singing in student opera productions in the repertory which is still his specialty today, Rossini and the Bel Canto operas of 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". He subsequently became Flórez's teacher, mentor and manager and has had a profound influence on his career.

1996 - present

Flórez's first big breakthrough and professional debut came in 1996, at the Rossini Festival in the Italian city of Pesaro, Rossini's birthplace. At the age of 23, he stepped in to take the leading tenor role in "Matilde di Shabran" when Bruce Ford became ill. He made his debut 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 no encores when he reprised "Ah! mes amis" with its nine high C's following an "overwhelming" ovation from the audience. [cite news |last=Owen |first=Richard |title=Pavarotti's heir breaks rules with encore on the high C's |work=The Times |date=2007-02-22] He repeated this solo encore at New York's Metropolitan Opera House on April 21 2008, the first singer to do so there since 1994. [cite news |first=Daniel J. |last=Wakin |title=Ban on Solo Encores at the Met. Ban? What Ban? |work=The New York Times |date=2008-04-23 |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/arts/music/23aria.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=florez&st=nyt&oref=slogin |accessdate=2008-04-23] [cite news |title=Show-Stopping Aria Encored at the Met |work=All Things Considered |publisher=National Public Radio |url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89884693 |date=2008-04-23 |accessdate=2008-04-24]

Flórez is also active on the concert stages of Europe, North America, and South America. Amongst the many venues 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. In a departure from his usual repertoire, 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 has released six solo recital CDs on the Decca label: "Rossini Arias" which won the 2003 Cannes Classical Award; "Una furtiva lagrima", which won the 2004 Cannes Classical Award; "Great Tenor Arias" which won the 2005 Echo Klassik award for the best arias and duets recital; "Sentimiento Latino"; "Arias for Rubini" and most recently, "Bel Canto Spectacular". In addition to his official discography, almost all his professionally performed roles have been preserved in radio broadcasts, and many also by 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, which some of Peru's greatest celebrities, including President Alan García and author Mario Vargas-Llosa, attended. [Associate Press, "Opera Star Star Juan Diego Florez Weds in his Native Peru," "International Herald Tribune", 6 April 2008.]

Awards and distinctions

Juan Diego Flórez has been recognized by his native country with several awards and distinctions. In May 2004, he received the "Orden al Mérito Cultural de Lima", from the Mayor of Lima; the "Orden al Mérito por servicios distinguidos en el grado de Gran Cruz" from President Alejandro Toledo; and was named an Honorary Professor of San Martín de Porres University. On November 29 of that year, he appeared on the 2-sol stamp, part of a series of five stamps honouring contemporary Peruvian musicians. It is highly unusual for a living opera singer to have been honoured in his home country this way, particularly one so young. (Flórez was 31 at the time). [Marion Lignana Rosenberg, [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/09/arts/music/09rose.html He Can Sing an Aria or Frank a Letter] , "New York Times", January 9, 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2008.] On June 4 2007, he received his country's highest honor, the "Gran Cruz de la Orden El Sol del Perú", from President Alan García.

From the classical music world he has received the "Premio Abbiati 2000" (awarded by Italian critics for the best singer of the year); the "Rossini d'oro"; the "Bellini d'oro"; the "Premio Aureliano Pertile"; the "Tamagno Prize"; and the "L'Opera" award (Migliore Tenore) for his 2001 performance in "La Sonnambula" at La Scala.


Flórez has a light lyric tenor voice of exceptional beauty which, while not of great size, is nevertheless audible in even the largest houses due to the predominance of high frequencies in its harmonic structure. Its compass is two octaves, up to and including the high D (a single example of a high E flat exists only in a studio recording), the higher part of its range being particularly strong and brilliant, with almost no sense of effort, while the lowest notes are comparatively weak. The head and chest registers are perfectly integrated, with no audible break in the passaggio. [Isotta, P: "Un disperato fa la differenza" (Review of "Falstaff", Teatro alla Scala), "Corriere della Sera", 31 March 2001 and Brüggemann, A: "Gesang jenseits der Gravitation von Musik", "Die Welt am Sonntag", 19 September 2004] His breath control is impeccable, allowing the longest phrases to be sustained with apparent ease. The ornaments of bel canto, including the trill, are well executed, and stylistic errors such as intrusive aspirates generally eschewed. [Gerardi. Enrico: "Salisburgo, trionfo da rock star per Juan Diego Florez" (Review of "La Donna del lago", Salzburg 2002), "Corriere della Sera", 29 August 2002] Perhaps the most distinctive technical accomplishment is the singer's total mastery of coloratura to a degree probably not matched by any other tenor who has recorded, and to be heard to best effect in his Idreno ("Semiramide") and Corradino ("Matilde di Shabran"). [ See for example, Ashley, Tim: "Tale of three tenors" (Review of Rossini's "Otello", Royal Opera House, London, February 2000), "The Guardian", 2 February 2000; Canning, Hugh: "Bravissimo! Ancora!" (Review of "Matilde de Shabran", Pesaro, August 2004), "The Times", 15 August 2004; Alonso, Gonzalo: "Semiramide necesita unas tijeras" (Review of "Semiramide", Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, November 2005), "La Razón", 23 November 2005]

Roles sung on stage

*"I Capuleti e i Montecchi" - Tebaldo "(student performance)"
*"I Puritani" - Arturo
*"La sonnambula" - ElvinoDonizetti
*"Don Pasquale" - Ernesto
*"Elisabetta" - Conte Potoski "(concert performance)"
*"L'elisir d'amore" - Nemorino
*"La Fille du régiment" - Tonio
*"Maria Stuarda" - LeicesterGluck
*"Armide" - Le chevalier danois
*"Orphée et Eurydice" - Orphée "(concert performance")Lehár
*"The Merry Widow" - Camille de Roussillon "(student performance)"Martín y Soler
*"Il tutore burlato" - Anselmo "(concert performance)"Meyerbeer
*"L'étoile du nord" - GeorgesMozart
*"Le nozze di Figaro" - Bartolo "(student performance)"Paisiello
*"Nina, o sia, la pazza per amore" - LindoroPrado
*"The nightingale and the rose" - The student "(student performance)"Puccini
*"Gianni Schicchi" - RinuccioRossini
*"Il barbiere di Siviglia" - Conte di Almaviva
*"La Cenerentola" - Don Ramiro
*"L'Italiana in Algeri" - Lindoro
*"Matilde di Shabran" - Corradino
*"Il Signor Bruschino" - Florville
*"Semiramide" - Idreno
*"Le comte Ory" - Comte Ory
*"Otello" - Rodrigo
*"Il viaggio a Reims" - Belfiore "(student performance)" & LibenskofRota
*"Il cappello di paglia di Firenze" - FadinardStrauss
*"Die Fledermaus" - Alfred "(student performance)"Verdi
*"Falstaff" - Fenton
*"Rigoletto" - Duke of Mantua


*"Alahor in Granata", Donizetti. Conductor: Josep Pons, CD: Almaviva, 1999
*"Il barbiere di Siviglia", Rossini. Conductor: Ralf Weikert CD: Live performance (1997), Nightingale Classics, 2004
*"Il barbiere di Siviglia", Rossini. Conductor: Gianluigi Gelmetti, DVD & Blu-Ray: Live performance (2005), Decca, 2005
*"La Cenerentola", Rossini. Conductor: Carlo Rizzi, CD: Live performance (2000), Rossini Opera Festival & Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pesaro, 2001
*"Le Comte Ory" Rossini. Conductor: Jesus Lopez-Cobos, CD: Live performance (2003), Deutsche Grammophon, 2004
*"Don Pasquale", Donizetti. Conductor: Maurizio Benini, DVD: Live performance (2006), Decca, 2007
*"L'Etoile du Nord", Meyerbeer. Conductor: Wladimir Jurowski, CD: Marco Polo, 1997
*"Falstaff", Verdi. Conductor: Riccardo Muti, DVD: Live performance (2001), EuroArts, 2003
*"La fille du régiment", Donizetti. Conductor: Riccardo Frizza, DVD: Live performance (2005), Decca, 2006
*"La fille du régiment", Donizetti. Conductor: Bruno Campanella, DVD: Live performance (2007), Virgin Classics, 2008
*"Matilde di Shabran", Rossini. Conductor: Riccardo Frizza, CD: Live performance (2004), Decca, 2006
*"Mitridate", Mozart. Conductor: Christophe Rousset, CD: Decca, 1999
*"Nina o sia La pazza per amore", Paisiello. Conductor: Riccardo Muti, CD: Ricordi, 2000
*"Semiramide", Rossini. Conductor Marcello Panni, CD: Nightingale Classics, 2001
*"Il Tutore Burlato", Martin y Soler. Conductor: Miguel Harth-Bedoya, CD: Bongiovanni, 1995Oratorio & Sacred Music
*"Cantatas" Vol.2, Rossini. Conductor: Riccardo Chailly, CD: Decca, 2001
*"Messa Solenne", Verdi. Conductor: Riccardo Chailly, CD: Decca, 2000
*"Stabat Mater", Rossini. Conductor: Gianluigi Gelmetti, CD: Agora, 1998
*"Le Tre Ore dell'Agonia del Nostro Signore Gesu Cristo", Niccolo Zingarelli. Conductor: Pierangelo Pelucchi, CD: Agora, 1995Recital
*"Canto al Peru" (with Ernesto Palacio). Piano: Samuele Pala, CD: Bongiovanni, 1997
*"Rossiniana". Conductor: Manlio Benzi, CD: Agora, 1998
*"Vesselina Kasarova Arias & Duets". Conductor: Arthur Fagen, CD: RCA, 1999
*"Rossini Arias". Conductor: Riccardo Chailly, CD: Decca, 2002
*"Una Furtiva Lagrima", Bellini, Donizetti. Conductor: Riccardo Frizza, CD: Decca, 2003
*"Great Tenor Arias", Verdi, Gluck, Rossini. Conductor: Carlo Rizzi, CD: Decca, 2004
*"Sentimiento Latino", Spanish & Latin American songs. Conductor: Miguel Harth-Bedoya, CD: Decca, 2006
*"Arias for Rubini", Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini. Conductor: Roberto Abbado, CD: Decca 2007
*"Bel Canto Spectacular", Bellini & Donizetti arias & duets. Conductor: Daniel Oren, CD: Decca 2008


Further sources
*Ashley, Tim, [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/critic/feature/0,,735606,00.html 'He's got no strings'] , "The Guardian", 14 March 2002
*Canning, Hugh, 'He'll take the high road', "The Sunday Times", 11 November 2001
*Cárdenas, Miguel Ángel, 'Un peruano en la Scala de Milán', "La República", 1 September 2002
* [http://www.ernestopalacio.com Ernesto Palacio Artists Management] , Official Biography and Repertory List of Juan Diego Flórez
*Hurwitz, David, [http://www.classicstoday.com/features/f1_0502.asp 'From Peru to Pesaro - Interview with Juan Diego Flórez'] , "Classics Today", May 2002
*Segovia, Emilio, 'La formación de un tenor rossiniano', "Pro Ópera", November/December 2003

External links

* [http://www.juandiegoflorez.com Decca Official web site]
* [http://www.florezidos.com "Florezidos" Official fan site]
* [http://www.ernestopalacio.com/Florez_ing.htm Management (Ernesto Palacio Artists Management)]
* [http://www.mindef.gob.pe/menu/historicos/himno/himno.htm Juan Diego Flórez singing the National Anthem of Peru] - Official web site of the Ministry of Defense of Peru.

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