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Jonas Kaufmann vs Juan Diego Florez

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Jonas Kaufmann and Juan Diego Florez

By Alkis Karmpaliotis, High School Student NYC

Jonas Kaufmann and Juan Diego Florez are two of the greatest tenors in the world, thus the debate about who is better is very prominent in the opera community.

Juan Diego Florez, born in Lima, Peru, has specialized in the Bel Canto repertoire throughout his career. Roles like Il Conte d'Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Tonio in La Fille du Regiment, and Arturo in I Puritani fit perfectly for him. He has a terrific high range, being praised for his ability to effortlessly float from high C's and D's to the lower register in a whirlwind of coloratura. Although Florez's greatest technical skill is his impeccable coloratura, which is essential for Rossini, he has lately also been exploring some of the more lyric French roles such as des Grieux in Manon and the title role of Werther, as well as some Mozart and even Puccini.

While Florez is perfect as a leggero tenor, Bavarian Jonas Kaufmann has a much deeper voice and excels in the spinto tenor repertoire. He is, for the most part, unchallenged in Puccini and even most Verdi. He has a very dark timbre that is great for roles like Manrico in Il Trovatore, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and Radames in Aida. He has a very powerful voice and he can control the dynamics of his sound very easily, leading to a wonderful array of colors in his singing. Since he has had so much success as a spinto, and was always pressured to do German opera, Kaufmann has also begun doing more Wagner. He has had success there, too, so far and has said that he intends to take on more Wagner roles later in his career.

It is truly foolish to try to declare a superior of the two as they are so different, but they do indeed overlap in one area: the Lyric tenor roles. Some roles that they have both sung include the title role of Werther and Alfredo in La Traviata. In fact, Florez recently made his debut as Alfredo at the Metropolitan Opera. Even in these roles, one really can't choose a superior of the two interpretations, simply because they are so different. When dealing with such superb artists, who have performed at such a high level for so long, there is simply no such thing as better and worse.

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Alkis Karmpaliotis
Alkis Karmpaliotis
Jun 17, 2020

@demetriusbravidis thanks for your question and sorry for the late response. Yes, we can call Kaufmann a Spinto tenor, for he sings roles like Manrico [Il Trovatore] and Radames [Aida] exceptionally well and often. Interestingly, Juan Diego Florez is exploring new repertoire including the Spinto role Pollione [Norma[. (A new article is coming soon that discusses Florez's career path) Here is a new video of Florez singing a difficult Spinto aria from Norma:

And now a video of Kaufmann singing Celeste Aida from Aida.


demetrius bravidis
demetrius bravidis
Jun 03, 2020

Interesting comparison, young man, and your Intro to Opera is an excellent article as well, better than some books I have read.

I love both these tenors, but have a technical question: Should we call Jonas a spinto tenor since he does not have the "squillo" of some other greats, like Pavarotti? He sounds more Domingo-like to me.



Thanks for the very honest review of two great artists!

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