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Recital, Folly Theater, Kansas City, 11 May 2008
Juan Diego Flórez
Folly Theater, Kansas City, 11 May 2008

Juan Diego Flórez: The voice that goes vroom
Susan Pfannmuller, The Kansas City Star,  12 May 2008

Juan Diego Flórez sang a Folly Theater recital Sunday that was rich in the operatic repertoire that made him famous.

Juan Diego Flórez is the most talked about tenor today, a Metropolitan Opera matinee idol whose wedding last month in Lima was attended by the president of his native Peru.

But at his recital Sunday at the Folly Theater we were reminded that behind the glamour is a voice that is a phenomenon of our time.

It is a distinctive tenor, as recognizable as Pavarotti's  with which, however, it shares little else in common. Forward and clear and at times vaguely nasal, it has a lightness that allows Flórez to race around the 90 mph patter of Rossini's "Deh! Truncate" like a Ferrari.

And though sometimes you miss the big-boned sonority of the more heroic tenors, Flórez is what he is. There are few singers of any voice type who can match the stretched-out, golden-hued "long line" that he brought to Bellini's "La ricordanza" (though perhaps he tugged the affect a bit hard at the end).

This was his third appearance on the Harriman-Jewell Series, which presented his U.S. recital debut in 2002. Over the years, he has opened up the voice to a wider range of colors, and these were on full display Sunday.

The tenderness of "La ricordanza" was contrasted with a more straightforward quality for the same composer's "All'udir del padre," whose high E-flat he spit out like a nail. Likewise, Mozart's "Dies Bildnis" was seductive, while his "O mio tesoro" was warmer, more honest.

Only in two arias from Verdi's "Rigoletto" did I find myself yearning for a more full-bodied voice.

Flórez's tenor still has its hammer-like attack, with a delivery so focused that when it strays from the pitch  which it rarely does  it makes you squint.

There is a seriousness of intent in the voice too, even in lighthearted music like Rossini's "L'orgia." But it loosened up for a set of picturesque songs by the Peruvian Ayarza de Morales.

Flórez sang the opera arias demonstratively, as on an opera stage, sometimes placing his hand on the piano as if it were a piece of scenery. The songs were more close to the chest. He even let his pianist, the excellent Vincenzo Scalera, play a solo.

His nine high-Cs in the final "Ah! Mes amis" elicited a roaring ovation. The encores were Gounod's "Ah! Lève-toi soleil!" and Donizetti's "Una furtive lagrima."


Juan Diego Flórez - tenor
Vincenzo Scalera - piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  "Dies bildnis" from Die Zauberflöte
  "Il mio tesoro" from Don Giovanni
Vincenzo Bellini
  "La ricordanza"
  "All'udir del padre affitto" from Bianca e Fernando
Gioacchino Rossini
  Prelude di musique anodine (piano solo)
  "Deh! troncate" from Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra


Rosa Mercedes Ayarza de Morales
  "La zamacueca"
  "Si mi voz muriera en tierra"
  "La rosa y el clavel"
  "Hasta la guitarra llora"
Giuseppe Verdi
  "Questa o quella" from Rigoletto
  "Parmi veder le lagrime" from Rigoletto
Gaetano Donizetti
  "Ah! Mes amis" from La Fille du régiment