The Risky Road of Juan Diego Florez

Although Juan Diego Florez is one of the best tenors of all time without question, he has recently been inconsistent in the roles that he performs.

Florez has proven himself to be one of the, if not the, best Leggero Tenors in history. For many years he stuck with this repertoire, and only recently did he begin exploring other music. Florez released an album with French arias titled 'L'amour' in 2014, and a Mozart album appropriately titled 'Mozart' in 2017. He has also released multiple albums with Latin-American songs, for as he is Peruvian, he sings those exquisitely. In recent years Florez has been attempting even more Lyric Tenor roles such as Alfredo in La Traviata, Werther, and even Rodolfo in La Boheme. Inevitably, he will eventually desire to sing Pollione in Norma, as well as some Austrian lieder. (God forbid he tries Wagner). His repertoire is expanding, and it is impressive that he can cover all these different composers; however, currently, this inconsistency may soon cause irreversible problems. One night he sings Rodolfo; the next, a Rossini role. While for now, it seems that he can maintain his old bel canto repertoire as well as explore heavier roles, as he and his voice age, it will be hard to handle all this different repertoire at the same time. The truth of the matter is that he has two options: continue with his signature repertoire solely - something which he doesn't want to do; or slowly abandon that repertoire and take the risk of transitioning permanently into lyric roles. Juggling both will tire and damage his voice severely so that he can't sing either. Fortunately for him, his home city of Vienna will always love him, and opera houses around the world will always invite him to perform, so failing in his effort to sing new roles - as unlikely as that is - will not destroy his career.

I encourage Florez to sing new roles - roles that we thought impossible back when all he sang was Rossini - to secure his place amongst the Tenor hall of fame; but he must commit. He must commit to Verdi and Puccini if he intends to sing Verdi and Puccini; and he must soon say goodbye to Rossini and the coloraturas that come with his roles. As the end of an era dawns upon us, though, I am confident that he will succeed in any new roles he performs.

Florez singing a Rossini aria, 'Ecco Ridente in Cielo' (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) in 2014. Notice his impressive coloratura and high notes, as well as the purity of his timbre.

Florez singing a Massenet aria, 'Pourquoi me réveiller' (Werther) in the very same year!

Both are beautifully sung, but as the years go by, it will be increasingly challenging to sing both at this level. Florez has proven himself in many different ways - as a singer, actor, etc. - and now he must commit to one or the other.

Alkis Karmpaliotis

Jul 6, 2020

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