Juan Diego Florez, tenor
Cécile Restier, piano
Llewellyn Hall, 7
Reviewed by Len Power
In his first Australian tour that included performances in
Melbourne and Sydney as well as Canberra, internationally renowned tenor, Juan
Diego Florez, showed the local audience why he is considered one of the finest
tenors of all time, receiving many honours and awards.
He was accompanied on piano by Cécile Restier, a Parisian with a formidable reputation, having worked with many famous conductors and singers as well as regularly appearing as a soloist in recitals and concerts.
The first half of the program concentrated on arias from roles the tenor has sung in the past, particularly those from the bel canto operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini.
Juan Diego Florez
He also sang two arias by Donizetti from the operas “L’elisir d’amore” and “Lucia di Lammermoor” and an aria by Bellini from his opera, “I Capuleti e I Montecchi”. All were sung with great conviction and beauty.
Cécile Restier played two piano solos in the first half of the program, one by Rossini and one by Donizetti. Both were performed extremely well and with great feeling.
The second half of the program consisted of arias from operas from Florez’s more recent roles, from the French Romantic composers, Lalo and Gounod, as well as arias by Verdi and Puccini.
It was difficult to choose highlights amongst his performances as each was individually memorable. The characters in the roles all came to life in very real ways with believable emotions, showing he is not only a powerful singer, but a superb actor as well.
Between the arias, two more piano solos - a nocturne by Bizet and an Intermezzo by Respighi - were performed by Cécile Restier. Her fine playing of these works brought out the distinctive colour in the music of these composers.
At the end of the concert, the audience was treated to a number of encores, including a group of Peruvian songs with Florez accompanying himself on guitar. Known to many in the audience who sang along with him, it was a delightful change of pace, showing another facet of this fine performer who had given us an evening to remember.
This review was first
published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 8 November 2023.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.