Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Juan Diego Flórez’s standout Abu Dhabi Festival show capped by a stirring finalé

He opened in the role of Cinderella’s dashing prince in a piece from Rossini’s 1817 version of the fairy-tale opera. It was an a apt introduction to Flórez’s smooth and rich tone.
Juan Diego Flórez performs with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy, at Emirates Palace as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Juan Diego Flórez performs with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy, at Emirates Palace as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

He may not be a household name yet, but those in the know regard tenor Juan Diego Flórez as the opera world’s next legend-in-waiting.

This was acknowledged by his near sell-out performance as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival at Emirates Palace on Monday.

The Peruvian singer with movie-star looks was impressively backed by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, lovingly conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy.

The evening’s repertoire focused on Flórez’s strength as the leading purveyor of bel canto, the early-19th century operatic style once maligned for its over-reliance on technique over showmanship.

Flórez delivered a standout show with perfectly incisive vocals backed by majestic musical accompaniment.

He opened in the role of Cinderella’s dashing prince in a piece from Rossini’s 1817 version of the fairy-tale opera. It was an a apt introduction to Flórez’s smooth and rich tone.

There was nothing easy about the follow up, Ah il più lieto, a challenging cabaletta from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Flórez took a more masculine turn here – he stared down the vocal challenge with his fluidly elongated melodic lines and smooth top notes.

The second half of the programme featured some French charm in the form of works by Donaudy and Bizet.

The former’s Vaghissima sembianza was graceful, with Flórez demonstrating his acting chops as he channelled the character’s inner battle between hope and rage.

The evening’s biggest moment, however, was reserved for Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment.

It was here that the auditorium almost transformed into a sporting arena with the crowd silently willing Flórez to ace those nine top C notes – the operatic equivalent of doing a decathlon.

After hearing them delivered with apparent ease, the crowd rose from their chairs for a rousing ovation, one of the loudest the auditorium has heard in quite some time.

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Updated: March 24, 2015 04:00 AM

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