Juan Diego Flórez was born in Lima, Peru, on January 13, 1973 where his father, Rubén Flórez, was a noted guitarist and singer of Peruvian popular and criolla music. In an interview in the Peruvian newspaper Ojo, Flórez recounted his early days when his mother managed a pub with live music and he worked as a replacement singer whenever the main attraction called in sick. "It was a tremendous experience for me, since most of those who were regulars at the pub were of a certain age, so I had to be ready to sing anything from huaynos to Elvis Presley music and, in my mind, that served me a great deal because, in the final analysis, any music that is well structured—whether it is jazz, opera, or pop—is good music".
Initially intending to pursue a career in popular music, he entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Lima at the age of 17. His classical voice emerged in the course of his studies there. During this time, he became a member of the Coro Nacional of Peru and sang as a soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass and Rossini's Petite messe solennelle.
Flórez's first breakthrough and professional debut came in 1996 at the Rossini Festival in the Italian city of Pesaro, Rossini's birthplace. At the age of 23, he stepped in to take the leading tenor role in Matilde di Shabran when Bruce Ford became ill. He made his debut at La Scala in the same year as the Chevalier danois (Danish Knight) in Gluck's Armide, and later in the year he sang the role of Georges in Meyerbeer's L'étoile du nord with Wexford Festival Opera. His Covent Garden debut followed in 1997 where he sang the role of Count Potoski in a world premiere concert performance of Donizetti's Elisabetta. Debuts followed at the Vienna State Opera in 1999 as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2002, again as Count Almaviva. On February 20, 2007, the opening night of Donizetti's La fille du régiment at La Scala, Flórez broke the theater's 74-year-old tradition of no encores when he reprised "Ah! mes amis" with its nine high C's following an "overwhelming" ovation from the audience. He repeated this solo encore at New York's Metropolitan Opera House on April 21, 2008, the first singer to do so there since 1994.
Flórez is also active on the concert stages of Europe, North America, and South America. Amongst the many venues in which he has given concerts and recitals are the Wigmore Hall in London, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Teatro Segura in Lima, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In a departure from his usual repertoire, he sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Broadway musicalCarousel at the Berlin Live 8 concert in 2005.
He was signed by Decca in 2001 and since then has released six solo recital CDs on the Decca label: Rossini Arias, which won the 2003 Cannes Classical Award; Una furtiva lagrima, which won the 2004 Cannes Classical Award; Great Tenor Arias which won the 2005 Echo Klassik award for the best arias and duets recital; Sentimiento Latino; Arias for Rubini, Bel Canto Spectacular and Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, recorded live in May 2008. In addition to his official discography, almost all his professionally performed roles have been preserved in radio broadcasts, and many also by television.
Moving into more lyric roles, he made his debut in Massenet's Werther in Bologna in December 2016, returning to the role in Zurich in April 2017, described the Diapason critic as a triumph, demonstrating his exemplary discipline in accent and phrasing, excellent shading. and with the natural allure of a poet.
Flórez's head and chest registers are perfectly integrated, with no audible break in the passaggio. The ornaments of bel canto, including the trill, are well executed, and stylistic errors such as intrusive aspirates generally eschewed. Perhaps the most distinctive technical accomplishment is the singer's mastery of coloratura heard to best effect in his Idreno (Semiramide) and Corradino (Matilde di Shabran).
Awards and distinctions
Juan Diego Flórez has been recognized by his native country with several awards and distinctions. In May 2004, he received the Order of merit, from the Mayor of Lima; the Orden al Mérito por servicios distinguidos en el grado de Gran Cruz from President Alejandro Toledo; and was named an Honorary Professor of San Martín de Porres University. On June 4, 2007, he received his country's highest honor, the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Sun of Peru, from President Alan García. He has been an Austrian Kammersanger since 2012. Flórez also appeared on the 2-sol stamp, part of a series of five stamps honouring contemporary Peruvian musicians issued on November 29, 2004. It is highly unusual for a living opera singer to have been honoured in his home country this way, particularly one so young. (Flórez was 31 at the time). (The portrait of Flórez used on the stamp was by British photographer, Trevor Leighton, and was also used for the cover of his 2003 CD Una Furtiva Lagrima.)
From the classical music world he has received the Premio Abbiati 2000 (awarded by Italian critics for the best singer of the year); the Rossini d'oro; the Bellini d'oro; the Premio Aureliano Pertile; the Tamagno Prize; and the L'Opera award (Migliore Tenore) for his 2001 performance in La sonnambula at La Scala.
In 2009, Flórez was nominated for the Best Classical Vocal Performance in the 52nd Grammy Awards for his album, Bel Canto Spectacular (Decca).
Flórez married German-born Australian Julia Flórez in a private civil ceremony on April 23, 2007 in Vienna. They held a religious ceremony at the Basilica Cathedral in Lima on April 5, 2008, which some of Peru's leading citizens, including President Alan García and author Mario Vargas Llosa, attended. Flórez was present at the birth of his son, Leandro, who was born in April 2011, less than an hour before his father took to the stage in Le comte Ory, broadcast live around the world from the Met. A daughter, Lucia Stella, was born in the family home in Pesaro, Italy, in January 2014.
Celebración - 2010 Opening night concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi arias and Latin American songs. Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel, DVD: Deutsche Grammophon 2010
↑ Dupuy, Emmanuel. Itinéraire d'un ténor. (Report on Werther in Zurich, 5 April 2017). Diapason, May 2017, No.657, p76.
↑ Isotta, P: "Un disperato fa la differenza" (Review of Falstaff, Teatro alla Scala), Corriere della Sera, 31 March 2001 and Brüggemann, A: "Gesang jenseits der Gravitation von Musik", Die Welt am Sonntag, 19 September 2004
↑ Gerardi. Enrico: "Salisburgo, trionfo da rock star per Juan Diego Florez" (Review of La Donna del lago, Salzburg 2002), Corriere della Sera, 29 August 2002
↑ See for example, Ashley, Tim: "Tale of three tenors" (Review of Rossini's Otello, Royal Opera House, London, February 2000), The Guardian, 2 February 2000; Canning, Hugh: "Bravissimo! Ancora!" (Review of Matilde de Shabran, Pesaro, August 2004), The Times, 15 August 2004; Alonso, Gonzalo: "Semiramide necesita unas tijeras" (Review of Semiramide, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, November 2005), La Razón, 23 November 2005