High Notes On This Day

On This Day: 5 Operas Juan Diego Florez Revived To The Repertoire

Juan Diego Florez is one of the most beloved tenors around the world. He has dominated the Bel Canto repertoire for years and his mastery of coloratura is unmeasured. For years the tenor has made an effort to revive works that are rarely performed or simply have been lost in the repertoire. These works have been given special treatment as they have not only showcased the tenor’s diversity but also showcased many of today’s great stars in unknown repertoire.

With the celebration of his 43rd birthday on Jan. 13, OperaWire looks at five roles the tenor has revived and toured around the world.

Rossini’s “Matilde di Shabran”

Florez had a breakout in 1996 when he stepped in for tenor Bruce Ford and became an instant sensation. The opera, which was rarely performed thanks to its length and difficult tenor role, became a showcase for Florez and one that he brought to many different companies including the Royal Opera House. He also made two recordings of the opera, a CD recording from 2006 and a DVD recording featuring star soprano Olga Peretyatko from the the Pesaro Festival.

Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago”

This is one of Rossini’s operas which has been performed around the world for some time by leading divas including Katia Ricciarelli, Mariella Devia and June Anderson. However, it disappeared before Florez, alongside Joyce DiDonato, revived the work and toured it around the world. They brought it to the Paris National Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera House. The opera was broadcast in movie theaters from the Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera House and a DVD was released. After DiDonato retired the role from her repertoire, Florez continued performing it to great acclaim at the Pesaro Festival.

Donizetti’s “Linda di Chamounix”

While Florez only performed this role once in his career, the fact that he opted to perform it alongside frequent collaborator Diana Damrau shows his passion for the Bel Canto repertoire and for recovering gems rarely performed. During the 2011 run both performers opted to sing the opera completely without any cuts, which also showed dedication to maintaining the composer’s true intentions. The run was met with numerous ovations particularly after Damrau’s phenomenally performed scene but here Florez showed promise in Donizetti’s heavier repertoire. While the Live in HD broadcast was cancelled due to financial issues at the Liceu, there is a YouTube video that contains this historical performance.

Nicolai’s “Il Templario”

While Florez has not performed this on stage yet, the tenor gave the opera a big platform for this rarely performed work. He did concert performances of the work at the Salzburg Festival, selling out the run. The opera was broadcast on radio, allowing those unable to secure a ticket to discover the work.

Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory”

This opera has rarely been performed outside of festivals despite being Rossini’s final comic opera and featuring an inventive trio at the end of the opera. However, Florez has taken this opera and run with it for many years. He sang at the Pesaro Festival before bringing to the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in a historical performance including Damrau and DiDonato. The success of the opera led to a subsequent revival featuring Pretty Yende in her Metropolitan Opera debut and career breakout. He later brought it to La Scala and today the work is performed more often in new productions.


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One Response

  1. Thank you for this wonderful and informative tribute to Juan Diego Flórez on his birthdate! His critics often forget how big of an impact he has made on history of opera in 20 years of career (and counting.) May I suggest 5 more works to add to your list?
    1. Flórez triumphantly opened 2015-16 season at ROH Covent Garden as Orphée in rarely performed tenor’s version of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. Audio recording available on Youtube, performance was not video recorded. He mentioned somewhere that he plans to repeat it at La Scala soon.
    2. He performed Raoul in Meyerbeer’s Huguenots to a great acclaim at Deutsche Open Berlin in November 2016, another opera that wasn’t around for a while. At the interview at the Green Space he said that he offered to do it at The Met but was turned down.
    3. Flórez did concert versions of Donizetti’s La Favorite in 2013 in Monte Carlo and in 2014 at Salzburg’s festival. This opera got a stage production at Bayerische Staatsoper with Matthew Polenzani in the role of Fernand the fall of 2016.
    4. I don’t have a shred of an evidence to support this, but I believe that last season’s sleeper hit of Les pêcheurs de perles was conceived by the Met for him too. He performed Nadir at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2012 and in Teatro Real Madrid in 2013.
    5. Flórez is scheduled to debut a role of Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia against Krassimira Stoyanova and Ildar Abdrazakov at Salzburg’s festival in the summer of 2017.

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