Sunday, November 07, 2004

Juan Diego Florez-Rossini Arias


Rossini was the king of Italian opera in the early 1800s. He wrote a grand total of 39 operas in his lifetime. His operas were for the most part comedic. Two of Rossini's most famous comedic operas are represented on this CD: Il Italiana in Algieri and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Others include an original rendition of "Ah Dove il cimento" from Semiramide and Rodrigo's angry speech to Iago from Otello. Sadly, most of Rossini's operas still have not been revived and brought back into the standard repertoire. This is largely due to the technical demand Rossini places on opera singers. Few singers have the brilliance and technical ability to handle the almost constant coloratura of a Rossini role. This burden is especially heavy on Tenors. All of the arias included on this CD lie in insane tessituras and require absolutely flawless agility. However, tenors such as the one on this recording are helping to bring back what was once thought a dying genre of opera.

Juan Diego Florez: :

The young Peruvian tenor featured on this CD has sung from a very young age. He began his musical studies at age 17 in the Peruvian National Conservatory. From there, Florez went on to study at Curtis and later under the tutelage of Ernesto Palacio. Florez is a tenor leggiero in every sense of the term. His voice is light and wonderfully agile. He handles the ridiculous tessituras and runs placed on tenors by the Bel Canto composers with ease. Only 32, Florez has already performed at La Scala, The Met, and the Vienna Staatsoper to name a few. Florez has received critical praise for both his technical polish and his simple yet genuine acting.

Aria 1: "Ah dov'e, dov'e il cimento"-Semiramide
This song is sung by the character Idreno in the opera Semiramide. He is about to enter a competition to win the love of Semiramide. This aria is perhaps the most challenging on the CD. It has Two High Ds. Yikes!

Aria 2: "Che Ascolto"-Otello
This aria is from Rossini's opera Otello based on the famous Shakespeare play Othello. This aria is sung by Rodrigo to Iago. Florez does an excellent job of this aria as well although it isn't as impressive as the first aria on the CD.

Aria 3: "Cessa di Piu resistere"-Il Barbiere di Siviglia
This aria is from the famous Il Barbiere di Siviglia, or as it is know in English, The Barber of Seville. Traditionally, this aria is cut from the opera because of its intensely challenging coloratura passages which Florez handled with ease.

Aria 4: "Vieni Fra queste braccia"-La gazza Ladra
This aria is also very challenging to negotiate, especially the second section which crosses over the passagio almost constantly. Florez does an excellent job of articulating every not in the second section. This aria is sung by the character Giannetto to his beloved Ninetta.

Aria 5: "Concedi, amor pietoso"-Il Italiana in Algieri
This delightful aria comes from the comedic Il Italiana in Algieri. It is sung by the character Lindoro. Although this aria lacks some of the technical brilliance of the others, it is quite challenging. Florez does an excellent job of singing an effortless High C at the end of the aria on a pure E vowel to boot!

Aria 6: "S'intessano agli allori...Terra amica"-Zelmira
This aria is sung by the character Ilo upon his return from war. He longs to see his wife and beloved son. I felt that of all the arias on this CD, that this was the least impressive. However, that is not saying much considering that it is still Rossini. Once again Florez did a fantastic job.

Aria 7: "Oh fiamma soave"-La Donna del lago
This particular aria adds a nice contrast to the rest of the CD. It is much slower and more languorous. Florez demostrates his ability to handle longer, sustained notes with ease and finesse.

Aria 8: "Si, ritrovarla io giuro"-La Cenerentola
With a simple translation, this opera's story suddenly becomes familiar: Cinderella. This aria is sung by the prince as he swears to find his beloved mystery woman. Only in this version, he finds a bracelet and not a glass slipper. This aria has lots of coloratura and makes an excellent closer for this CD. Florez does an excellent job of articulating every note, especially the last high C.