Il Barbiere di Siviglia, NY Met, December 2003
Juan Diego Flórez & Ruth Ann Swenson

Barbiere di Siviglia, New York Times, 19 December 2003.
New York Chronicle (excerpt), The New Criterion, Vol. 22, No. 7, March 2004


Barbiere di Siviglia
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 19 December 2003.

On Wednesday night a new cast took over all the major roles in the Metropolitan Opera's attractive 1982 production of Rossini's ebullient "Barbiere di Siviglia." Most of the advance buzz, no doubt, was about the exciting young Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez. Count Almaviva is already a trademark role for Mr. Flórez and, as expected, he was splendid, tossing off Rossinian roulades and runs with agility and exuberance, singing with sweet tone and pliant phrasing. That he's such a dashing and agile actor just adds to the fun. Not many tenors can jump atop a table in one leap, as he did. As Rosina, the essential soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, who is having an exceptionally fine Met season, sang exquisitely and again proved herself a delightfully natural comic actress. Alfonso Antoniozzi, a wiry-framed and vocally robust Italian bass-baritone with wryly understated comic instincts, made a standout Met debut as Dr. Bartolo. And the veteran baritone Dwayne Croft was a hardy and winning Figaro. Bruno Campanella conducted. Everyone returns for tomorrow evening's performance. Tomorrow night at 8, Metropolitan Opera House, (212) 362-6000. Tickets: $35 to $205

New York Chronicle (excerpt)
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion, Vol. 22, No. 7, March 2004

[...]My second tenor is Juan Diego Flórez, being touted as the
King of Bel Canto. It is not just hype: This is one of the
best bel canto tenors-certainly tenori di grazia-we have
ever had. He is considered the successor to the late Alfredo
Kraus, but I hazard to say that he is an improvement on
Kraus. No living-or, better, active-singer is supposed to be
preferred to a non-active (e.g., deceased) one. It's just
not fittin'. Besides which, comparison is overdone in
criticism. But in my judgment Flórez has at least as much
technique as Kraus (who had plenty) and a much-an
infinitely-more beautiful instrument.

This instrument and all that technique were on display in a
Met Barber of Seville. A thrilling Barber it was. Flórez
creates excitement when he is onstage, because you don't
know what he's going to do next. Or rather, you do: You know
that he's going to execute the most difficult passages with
astounding ease and accuracy. But it's a kick to see him do
so. Governing it all is a natural musicality that only
enhances what that freakish vocal apparatus can do. Tenore
di grazia is rather too dainty a term for Flórez: He is a
pyrotechnician of the bel canto tenor voice, and a jewel in
the crown of the opera world today.


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