Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Juan Diego Florez: Mozart

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Juan Diego Florez: Mozart

Article excerpt

Juan Diego Florez: Mozart. Juan Diego Florez, tenor; Orchestra La Scintilla; Riccardo Minaşi, conductor. (Sony B073R6K4H4; 51:52)

"Fuor del mar" (Idomeneo)-, "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" (Die Zauberflöte)-, "Si spande al sole in faccia" (II re pastore)-, "II mio tesoro intanto," "Dalla sua pace" (Don Giovanni); "Del piů sublime soglio," "Se all'impero, amici Dei" (La clemenza di Tito): "Un'aura amorosa" (Cos! fan tutte): "Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke" (Die Entführung aus dem Serail); "Misero! 0 sogno ... Aura che intorno spiri."

For the last twenty-two years, Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez has been one of the world's most successful and admired artists in the high stakes arena of bel canto opera. Every major house in the world has been the site of a Florez triumph in the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini; it is difficult to think of another singer who has performed at such a consistently superlative level. As he enters middle age, Florez has slowly tilted his repertoire toward meatier roles such as the Duke of Mantua, Romeo, Hoffmann, and Werther, and his success in such ventures has been commendable. Bel canto still figures prominently in his schedule, although even in that repertoire he has begun to focus on roles that are less about stratospheric pyrotechnics and require weightier virtuosity.

Florez fans are apt to assume that his Mozart album will be a somewhat tepid affair compared to the spectacular bel canto collections that have come before it. Most of us tend to forget that Mozart wrote a considerable number of scores in the tradition of opera seria, and they are amply represented here. The disk opens with "Fuor del mar," a fiercely difficult aria from Idomeneo, Mozart's first mature operatic masterpiece. When the work slowly crept back in to the repertoire in the mid twentieth century, this aria was almost always cut because so few tenors could contend with its technical demands. Even today, there are not many tenors who can conquer this aria the way Florez does. One might wish for a slightly more heroic sound than he commands, but no one has sung its coloratura passages with more electrifying panache and clarity. The tenor offers similarly scintillating work in arias from La clemenza di Tito and II re pastore that call upon the full arsenal of Florez's abilities.

The tenor is just as impressive in the more familiar arias that we all know so very well and that boast hundreds of previous recordings. Even in such well trod terrain, Florez has something quite distinctive and compelling to say. There is the essential sweetness and purity of his timbre (which remains as beautiful as ever) and his unfailing elegance and grace to which we have become accustomed. Beyond that, Florez sings these arias with a fearless and even flamboyant use of ornamentation that one almost never hears in this repertoire. Purists are likely to balk at some of his choices, but they are a product of a keen and resourceful mind and always sung with expressive intent. …

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