For the world's leading opera houses, Juan Diego Flórez is very much the bel canto tenor of choice. His fluid, expressive singing and dazzling virtuosity make him ideal for the operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. His operatic and recital appearances at the most prestigious venues in the world have earned him the acclaim of critics and audiences alike.
Juan Diego was born in Lima on 13 January 1973. His father, Rubén Flórez, was a singer, who specialised in performing the criollo waltzes of Peruvian composer Chabuca Granda. Juan Diego inherited both his father's vocal talent and his love for Peruvian and Latin American music in general. His mother, María Teresa, another music-lover, gave him all the support in the world, encouraging him to persevere with his musical studies and stick to his goals.
To begin with, Juan Diego focused on pop, rock and Peruvian music. He wrote his own songs and sang live in the piano bars frequented by his schoolmates in the Barranco district of Lima. In 1989, the young singer won Peru's first Festival of Song for Peace, which was broadcast on TV nationwide.
He always felt that all good musicians, including folk musicians, should read and write music. That's why in 1990, having attended classes at various academies and taken his first singing lessons, he gained a place at Peru's National Conservatory of Music. At this point, he had not fully made up his mind to devote himself to classical music. By the end of his first year at the conservatory, however, the experiences of those first twelve months were beginning to shape his vocation. Shortly after beginning his studies there, Juan Diego began taking singing lessons with Andrés Santa María, director of Peru's Coro Nacional, of which he was to become a member. The Coro played a decisive part in his musical development, giving him the invaluable experience of performing music by the greatest composers at a professional level. He could not have hoped for a better start.
Keen to travel and to continue his education, Juan Diego then won a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He studied there between 1993 and 1996, and had the opportunity to sing in a number of fully staged complete operas, with an orchestra, an excellent foundation for what was to turn out to be a spectacular career.
In 1994, Juan Diego met the celebrated Peruvian tenor Ernesto Palacio in Lima, an encounter which was to prove life-changing. He auditioned for Palacio, who apparently didn't seem overly impressed. Nonetheless, he did offer to help the young man get started as a professional singer, and invited Juan Diego to make a recording with him at the Gerace Festival in Italy (Martín y Soler's Il tutore burlato). Juan Diego visited Italy several more times, including a trip in 1995 to make a second recording with Palacio (Zingarelli's Le tre ore dell'agonia).
Palacio's vocal advice had an immediate impact on the young tenor, who began to sing with noticeably more ease and expressivity. His teachers at the Curtis Institute were quick to note, with approval, Palacio's influence. The innate characteristics of Juan Diego's voice, qualities such as flexibility and a seemingly effortless ability to hit the high notes, destined him for the bel canto repertoire and, in particular, the operas of Rossini. Palacio realised this from the start, and guided the younger singer towards these works.
In 1996, Juan Diego auditioned in Bologna for the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and was immediately cast by its Artistic Director in a small role in Ricciardo e Zoraide. He never sang this part, however, because events were about to catapult him into the firmament of the international opera world.
It was summer 1996. Juan Diego was already in Pesaro, rehearsing for Ricciardo e Zoraide. Shortly before the Festival's opening night, the tenor who was due to sing the leading role of Corradino in Matilde di Shabran had to pull out because of illness. The organisers began a desperate search for a stand-in who might be up to the challenge – a less than easy task, given that this was a little-known opera, the first night was only days away, and Corradino is a very difficult role to sing. It was then that Artistic Director Luigi Ferrari offered the part to the twenty-three-year-old Juan Diego. The tenor was keen to accept on the spot but, showing admirable professionalism, asked Ferrari to give him some time over lunch to go through the score, after which he would say yes or no. He was so excited he could barely eat – after reading through just two pages, he went to Ferrari and said accepted the offer.
With that, the wheels were set in motion to prepare him for the imminent first night. Juan Diego had to rehearse before he'd even had time to learn the music, with the help of prompts from assistants and pianists. After a frenetic few days, the eagerly awaited first night arrived: 13 August 1996. It was a huge hit, and marked the start of his stellar career.
From that moment onwards, opera houses around the world set their sights on the young tenor, including the most famous of all: La Scala, Milan. Juan Diego made his La Scala debut on 7 December 1996 – a significant date, in that it was the opening night of the season – under the baton of Riccardo Muti, who was to be a key influence on the tenor over the next few years. Juan Diego had visited La Scala a few months earlier and, gazing out across the auditorium from one of the boxes, had said, with great prescience, "I'll be singing here within ten years". He could never have imagined that he'd be starring there just ten months later.
Since then, he has appeared at all the world's leading opera houses, concert halls and music festivals, including the Metropolitan, New York; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Los Angeles Opera; San Francisco Opera; Washington National Opera; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Wexford Festival; Vienna Staatsoper; Salzburg Festival; Vienna Konzerthaus; Vienna Musikverein; Paris Opéra; Radio France and Montpellier Festival; Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris; Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris; Ópera de Lyon; Teatro Real, Madrid; Teatre Liceu, Barcelona; ABAO, Bilbao; Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville; Las Palmas, Gran Canaria; Teatro São Carlos, Lisbon; La Scala, Milan; Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro; Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome; Teatro San Carlo, Naples; Teatro Regio, Turin; Teatro Verdi, Trieste; Teatro Comunale, Bologna; Rome Opera; Teatro Massimo, Palermo; Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence; Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa; Teatro Filarmonico de Verona; Munich Staatsoper; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Dresden Staatsoper; Zurich Opernhaus, etc.
His repertoire includes forty-four operas: Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, I puritani and La sonnambula; Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles; Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto; Donizetti's Alahor in Granata, Don Pasquale, Elisabetta, L'elisir d'amore, La Fille du régiment, Maria Stuarda, Linda di Chamounix and Lucrezia Borgia; Gluck's Armide and Orfeo; Lehár's Die lustige Witwe; Martín y Soler's Il tutore burlato; Meyerbeer's L'Étoile du nord; Mozart's Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni and Mitridate; Paisiello's Nina ossia la Pazza per amore; Puccini's Gianni Schicchi; Rossini's Adelaide de Borgogna, Ermione, Guillaume Tell, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Il signor Bruschino, Il turco in Italia, Il viaggio a Reims, La Cenerentola, La gazza ladra, Le Comte Ory, L'italiana in Algeri, Matilde di Shabran, Otello, Ricciardo e Zoraide, Scala di seta, Semiramide and Zelmira; Rota's Il cappello di paglia di Firenze; J. Strauss's Fledermaus; and Verdi's Falstaff and Rigoletto.
He has worked with the world's best-known conductors, including Roberto Abbado, Yves Abel, Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Whun Chung, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Gianluigi Gelmetti, James Levine, Jesús López-Cobos, Sir Neville Marriner, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano, Carlo Rizzi, Christophe Rousset, Nello Santi, Marcello Viotti and Alberto Zedda.
Since 2001 Juan Diego has been an exclusive Decca artist, and has recorded 8 solo recital albums, 4 complete operas on CD and 6 on DVD. In total, including his discs for other companies, he has recorded 8 solo albums, 12 complete operas on CD and 11 on DVD, and made another 7 albums that fall into other categories, such as cantatas or oratorios. His recordings have won many awards, including the Choc du Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or, Echo Klassik Preis, Cannes Classical Award, Gramophone Award and a Grammy nomination for the album Bel Canto Spectacular.
In 2007, Juan Diego made history at La Scala when he broke a 70-year-old taboo and gave the first encore in the theatre since 1933, much to the audience's delight. The aria in question was "Ah! mes amis" from Donizetti's La Fille du régiment, renowned for its nine high Cs. He repeated the feat a few months later, in 2008, at the Met, again after a number of years in which no encores had been heard, and in 2012 at the Opéra de Paris, where no encores had been heard since its inauguration in 1989.
Juan Diego has received a number of awards, including the Rossini d'Oro, the Abbiati Prize given by the Italian Association of Music Critics, the Tiberini d'Oro, the ISO de Oro, the Opera Award and the Aureliano Pertile, Bellini, Francesco Tamagno and Plácido Domingo Awards.
He has also been recognised with the following honours:
2002 – "Visitante Ilustre" (Distinguished Visitor) of the National University of Engineering (Peru)
2003 – Honorary Member of the University of the Pacific (Peru)
2004 – Order of Merit, Grand Cross (Peru)
2004 – Honorary Professor of the University of San Martín de Porres (Peru)
2005 – Honorary Professor of the National Music Conservatory (Peru)
2007 – Order of the Sun, Grand Cross (Peru)
2009 – Honorary Professor of the UPC (Peruvian University of Applied Sciences)
2012 - Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO, the cultural agency of the United Nations
2012 - Honorary title "Kammersänger" from the Minister of Cultural Affairs of Austria
Juan Diego has always maintained a close relationship with his native country, which has awarded him its very highest distinction: the Order of the Sun, Grand Cross. He has also set up a foundation in Peru with the aim of encouraging the creation of children's and youth orchestras and choirs on a national level. The project is inspired by the Venezuelan "Sistema", and its central aim is to help poor and vulnerable children and young people to avoid the many dangers they face in their day-to-day lives: drugs, delinquency, exploitation and prostitution, etc.
In 2004, the Peruvian Postal Service, Serpost, issued a stamp in his honour. Three years later, in 2007, the UPC published a book about Juan Diego's career to date, written by Gustavo Rodríguez.
On 5 April 2008 Juan Diego married Julia Trappe in Lima Cathedral in a ceremony officiated over by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani. The wedding was a national event and crowds flocked to the Peruvian capital's Plaza Mayor to catch a glimpse of the couple. The ceremony was also broadcast live on TV.
In 2006 Juan Diego was granted Austrian citizenship on artistic merit, but continues to retain his Peruvian citizenship as well.
Juan Diego is an Audi partner, and an interview with him appeared in the company's 2008 Annual Report.
He is also part of the "Zegna and Music" project as a musical ambassador for Ermenegildo Zegna.
His hobbies include football, tennis, cooking and composition. Juan Diego has written two pieces in the Peruvian genre known as the huayno. The first is the Huayno Peruano Navideño, which was performed in the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2007 by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Boys Choir. The second, Santo, was written for the album of the same name in 2009.
Tenor star Juan Diego Flórez's passion for Latin American music started at an early age, when he was still a child. It was a deep and lasting passion and his initial encounter with it turned into a lifelong passion. "I grew up with vals criollos, Marineras, boleros, rancheras and tangos, magnificent songs from Latin America," he says. Now, he documents his love for Latin American music on a very personal album, Bésame Mucho, available now from Sony Classical.
In the end, it didn't happen: the Last Night of the Proms didn't descend into a Brexit v EU flag-off; no punches were thrown during Land of Hope and Glory. Certainly the EU flags were more prominent than usual, but as ever they jostled with stripes and crosses and emblems from all around the world – to decipher them all one would need to invent Shazam for flags. In the arena, two of the Prommers most ostentatiously dressed head to-toe in union jacks were visiting Germans, and the biggest, brightest flag of all belonged to Tibet. It's a mistake to think of the Last Night as an exclusively British thing.
Instead, in a way, it's more of a fancy-dress party. Nobody understood that better than Juan Diego Flórez, the Peruvian star tenor, who came on for Rule Britannia dressed as an Inca warrior complete with blue and orange feathered headdress and gold earrings as big as beermats, and brandishing an axehead on a staff. Flórez had already all but stolen the show with his high notes, agility and wit in arias by Rossini, Offenbach and Donizetti, and, with a microphone, with his smooth delivery of a medley of Latin numbers – the smoochiest of which was addressed to the cuddly toy Paddington (also a Peruvian guest in London) he'd been handed from the arena. The BBC Symphony Orchestra did a good impression of a Cuban backing band.
READ THE FULL guardian REVIEW
Tenor Juan Diego Flórez is joining the Sony Classical label, after 15 years signed to . Though no details have been announced by Sony of the first disc, the relese date is given as autumn 2017. ‘Recordings are such a different means of expression for an opera singer,' said Flórez, reflecting on his new record contract. ‘Musically, they allow you to explore and try new and exciting things, such as new colours and ways of interpretation. Working in the studio has fascinated me for a long time and I am full of new ideas I want to realize with Sony. I look forward to working with its team to bring great recordings to music lovers around the world.'
READ THE FULL Gramophone ARTICLE
Juan Diego Flórez is giving disadvantaged children a bright future through the power of music. Inspired by Venezuelan music network "El Sistema" the operatic tenor has created music schools throughout his home country Peru allowing thousands of children from low-income families to play an instrument or to sing in a choir. "Music can improve the lives of children of the youth and can really transform society in a great way," Florez told euronews. "They are learning generosity, they are learning discipline, they are playing for a goal, for excellence, for beautiful music. The most important thing is that they are acquiring attitudes and values for life."
WATCH THE euronews VIDEO
Following 2014's ecstatically-received album of French songs, Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez now takes the listener to Italy with a recording of popular Italian songs. The album – released on September 25, 2015 – includes many new arrangements and was recorded in the Italian seaside resort of Fano, adding extra depth to its authentic flavor. Flórez is joined on several tracks by fellow artists Avi Avital, Ksenija Sidorova and Craig Ogden.
Facing the music, the Peruvian tenor on rocking out in the recording studio, how he'd change the format of the classical concert and which pop star he'd like to work with
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The boyish pluck is still there, but middle age seems to have sneaked up on Juan Diego Florez. It's etched lightly across his face, in some wayward gray hairs, and even in his seemingly effortless, upswept tenor. Two decades into a starry operatic career, Mr. Florez, at 42, is entering a new vocal phase: He is now singing the role of Edgardo in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," more heroic than the bubbly coloratura characters that made him famous, for the first time at the Gran Teatre del Liceu here.
READ THE FULL THE NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE
Juan Diego Flórez, Decca's "king of the bel canto repertory" (New York Times) joins the illustrious list of tenors to record an album of popular Neapolitan and Italian songs. All the classic favorites are here – from O Sole Mio to Arriverderci Roma, Mattinata and Non ti scordar di me. Many of the songs have been newly arranged to evoke the feel of an authentic Neapolitan café band, and Flórez is joined by star mandolin player Avi Avital and acclaimed accordionist Ksenija Sidorova.
Juan Diego Florez: Italia on Decca is the WFMT: Chicago - New Release Of the Week. Featured tracks are
Tosti: Marechiare (3:25)
Leoncavallo: Mattinata (2:17)
Di Lazzaro: Chitarra Romana (3:31)
Featuring - Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Ensemble & Orchestra / Carlo Tenan
On L'Amour (Decca, 2014), Juan Diego Flórez's new recital disc, the award-winning tenor explores French operatic repertoire. His impressive stylistic range reflects his virtuosic command of several rarely sung arias by the Peruvian bel canto superstar. Whether singing from Boieldieu to Donizetti to Massenet, Flórez surpasses any preconceived notions you may have prior to playing this disc. His personal interpretations of these 12 enchanting arias will delight you from beginning to end.
READ THE FULL AXS REVIEW.
Tune in on Sunday, May 4 at 3 pm as tenor Juan Diego Flórez comes to WQXR: The Greene Space for his only solo appearance in New York City this season. The event is sold out, but a video webcast will be available on this page.
Acclaimed for his performances of the leading bel canto tenor roles of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, as well as Verdi, Puccini, Gluck, and Mozart, Flórez is now tackling the French repertoire on L'Amour, his first solo album in four years. He performs arias from the album, and talks with host Naomi Lewin.
Flórez is returning to singing after having withdrawn from the first three performances of Rossini's La Cenerentola at the Metropolitan Opera, citing illness. He is slated to be back on the Met stage on May 2 and will talk with Lewin about playing Prince Charming to Joyce DiDonato's Cinderella. WATCH THE LIVE WEBCAST HERE ON SUNDAY, MAY 4TH AT 3PM.
WFMT - Chicago has selected 2 tracks from L'Amour, the new CD from tenor Juan Diego Flórez and the Bologna Teatro Comunale Orch led by Roberto Abbado
Massenet: Werther: Pourquoi me réveiller
Offenbach: La Belle Hélène: Au mont Ida
L'Amour is the first solo album in four years by one of opera's biggest stars reveals a voice which has become richer, rounder and more mellow. The choice of repertoire draws further new colors from tenor Juan Diego Flórez. His new recording offers a survey of the French operatic repertoire from Donizetti to Gounod and Massenet. This is a disc that not only plays to Flórez's strengths but also shows a new side to the singer, featuring repertoire which he has rarely sung on stage.