Recital, Berkeley, California 11 June 2003

A Grand Voice, Curiously Used, San Francisco Classical Voice, 17 June 2003 [external link]
18 High C's And Counting, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003
All hail Florez, tenor sensation all but crowned at Cal Performances, Alameda Times-Star, 13 June 2003

OPERA-L [external links]...
18 high C's in Berkeley [a slightly longer and more informal version of the Chronicle review above]
Juan Diego Florez at Berkeley Hertz Hall was a knockout!!
18 High C's And Counting
Ching Chang, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003

Juan Diego Flórez is a dream in Berkeley

If Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez weren't so handsome, he'd be a freak show. An exceptionally thrilling one, of course.

Making his Bay Area recital debut Wednesday night at Hertz Hall in Berkeley, Flórez offered relentless, dazzling displays of bravura and virtuosism, singing the infamously difficult Donizetti aria "A mes amis" from "La fille du regiment," with a jaw-dropping string of nine utterly exposed high C's, potently rendered with ringing brilliance.

Rewarding the thunderous public applause that followed, the tenor proceeded to repeated this daredevil, career-crushing selection as an encore, before the evening was out. This was the aria that made Luciano Pavarotti an overnight sensation at the Met, some 30 years ago. And while Pavarotti is sounding outright geriatric and tentative these days, cracking embarrassingly on mere B-flats, Juan-Diego Flórez showered the Berkeley crowd a hair-raising binge of 18 high C's on this one aria alone.

The rest of the program wasn't any less impressive, and included a particularly incendiary rendition of "L'espoir renait dans mon âme," as well as the beautiful lament "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice," both from Gluck's opera "Orphée." For those who missed the opening of "La Cenerentola" at the San Francisco Opera -- where he single handedly redeemed the performance from becoming completely dreary, the tenor also reprised his showstopper aria "Si, ritrovarla io giuro."

Flórez thrives on singing very difficult music, and another one of his encores was none other than the treacherous cabaletta from "Cessa di piu resistere," from Rossini's "Barber of Seville." Despite the popularity of this opera, this passage is almost always cut from performances due to its enormous difficulty. And as if he were embellishing a peacock, Flórez added even more ornaments to the already florid writing.

Other entries on the program included a well-chosen assortment of romantic songs by Bellini and Rossini, as well as a handful of passionate Peruvian songs, some of which Flórez arranged himself for the performance. Between the seductive melodic lyricism and the testosterone-rich feats of sheer vocal bravado, girls of both genders from the audience were ready to throw their underwear at him on stage.

Flórez is something of a tenor version of the Italian superdiva Cecilia Bartoli, which as male voice, makes him a very rare creature indeed. This was sinfully delicious coloratura binge, an operatic guilty pleasure of almost perverted proportions.

Berkeley's Cal Performances has engaged Flórez for another recital in 2004, but until then, you can still catch him as the Prince Charming in the San Francisco Opera performances of Rossini's "La Cenerentola."

All hail Florez, tenor sensation all but crowned at Cal Performances
Stephanie von Buchau, Alameda Times-Star, 13 June 2003

He came
he saw
he conquered.

We came
we listened
we were overwhelmed.

He is the new tenor sensation, Juan Diego Florez. We were putty in his
hands, giving him several standing ovations and coaxing four encores --
including "Granada" -- out of the hard-working 30-year-old Peruvian.

In the Bay Area for San Francisco Opera's "La Cenerentola," Florez was
snagged by Cal Performances for a recital debut Wednesday night that had all
the makings of a coronation. Local opera fans, who complain they won't go
near the War Memorial "for productions rather than singers," turned out in

Florez is no flash in the pan, but a singer who came from a musical family,
attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and made a memorable
debut in Pesaro, Italy, in 1996, replacing an indisposed singer. He's been
on his way up ever since.

Handsome as any tenor since Franco Corelli, slender, dark-haired Florez has
a profile like a Roman coin, a mass of curly black hair and a diffident,
dignified platform manner that makes him as watchable as he is listenable.

However, looks alone will not keep a discerning opera crowd riveted for two
hours. Florez not only has a voice, but he's a superb musician.
With lively accompanist from Martin Katz, one of the best in the business,
the tenor presented an exemplary program for a singer who does not yet
venture into the art song.

He started with Mozart's throat-clearing concert aria, K. 431. Clutching the
piano, Florez made the dramatic recitative and aria of the prisoner bidding
farewell to his beloved into a mini opera.

Then he proceeded with a clever series of pairings, a song followed by an
aria from bel cantists Bellini ("Ma rendi pur contento" and Tebaldo's aria
from "Capuleti ed i Montecchi") and Rossini ("L'esule" and the Prince's
strenuous aria from "Cenerentola").

After the intermission, Florez did his most impressive singing in three
pieces by Gluck, an Italian aria from "Paride ed Elena" and two pieces from
the French version of "Orphe et Eurydice."

The famous "Je perdu mon Eurydice," sung at a moving tempo, was followed by
the ferocious exit aria Gluck wrote for this French tenor version, the
coloratura ripped off with exciting fluency.

Songs in Spanish (possibly Peruvian in origin -- there were texts but no
program notes) included the fiery, rhythmic "La jarra de oro" (traditional,
arranged by Florez). He repeated this impressive musicological feat in an
encore called "La Flor de Canela."

If he ever quits his day job, he's got it made as a lounge singer.

Hertz Hall, with its all-wooden interior, is ideal for baroque music, but
not proof against too much volume. Florez, obviously not familiar with the
place, tended to oversing. He showed off his brilliant high C 18 times by
singing Donizetti's aria from "Fille du Regiment" twice, once as an encore.

The occasional, tender moments in this strenuous program suggested that if
he tried a sweet, gentle encore, he might send people home melted into goo
as well as thrilled with his virile sound and superb technique.

Possibly next year, as Cal Performances has already signed him for a repeat


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