Date: 13 March, 2004
: The Orpheum Theatre

Reviewer: June Heywood



Accompanist: Martin Katz - piano

Juan Diego Florez

Superlatives abound for the movie-star-handsome 31 year-old Peruvian lyric tenor, Juan Diego Florez.

Britain's Daily Telegraph enthuses, "For sheer (vocal) acrobatic skills and thrills, he is without doubt numero uno". Mr Florez demonstrated his skills and thrills in an evening of variety from Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Rossini, Massenet, Bizet, Donizetti, and Sas.

In Gioachino Rossini's Che ascolto! (What do I hear!) from Othello (Rodrigo's Aria, Mr Florez held his breath throughout extraordinary long phrases that ran up and down the scale. His a capella high C was effortless. As he sang in Italian, his body language tempted all to defy him. The angry words in English were, "With my very own hand I shall know how to punish the betrayer".

The liner notes declare that when it was discovered the former rock band singer, "Was in possession of a voice so pure, agile, and unique…it would help revive neglected repertoire" Mr Florez began his operatic training. This evening, he demonstrated his vocal purity in Franz Schubert's Guarda che bianca luna! (See how White the moon is!). In the melancholy traditional Peruvian folk song, El Pajonal (The Straw Farmer) by Andre Sas, Florez captured the tone of a lullaby and another effortless high C.






Joining Mr Florez was "Martin Katz (who) must surely be considered the dean of collaborative pianists", writes the Los Angeles Times. Teacher, conductor, and accompanist he has been one of the world's most sought after on-stage partners for vocal soloists for more than thirty-five years.

Mr Katz' piano skills were a perfect accompaniment to the star's vocal acrobatics. Never taking the limelight, with his unique touch he matched and complemented Mr Florez' voice.

Between each set, Mr Florez and Mr Katz left the stage. These breaks were too long as they broke the rhythm of the performance. Surprisingly, for a man with a tremendous tenor, Mr Florez' speaking voice carried only a few rows forward. Yet, his sense of humour shone through when someone clapped too soon and he indicated with a theatrical hand and facial gesture, "Not yet". He gestured again at the end of the performance by placing his hand on his heard then on to his third eye to say, "Thank you from my heart and soul".

When three encores followed four standing ovations, Mr Florez' voice was as fresh at the end of the program as it had been at the start. His high C's just as pure.

This young bel cantor has a golden future.

2004, June Heywood