Juan Diego Florez has been used to glowing reviews since his début at the Rossini Opera Festival. Recently he has started receiving some sterner criticism, and reactions to his latest recital in London was no different.
Alexandra Coghlan for The Arts Desk writes:
We’ve all seen singers go wrong. Forgetting words, missing entries, skipping verses – it happens often enough, and is generally cause for little more than some awkward laughter and a second attempt. Never, however, have I seen a wrong entry (as ill-luck would decree, in the only sacred work of the programme) greeted with a resonant expostulation of “Oh, shit” from the performer, followed by minor audience uproar and many apologies. It wasn’t the finest moment of the evening for Juan Diego Flórez, but – loath though I am to admit it – it wasn’t the worst either.
Choosing arias from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito as a point of departure was probably not wise. However regal his stance in the well of the piano Florez lacked the requisite weight and girth in the voice to lend authority to these notes.
Uncharacteristically, aspirated runs were a feature of “Se all’impero” while commanding bottom notes were off his chart. One wanted more length and evenness to the legato of “Del piu sublime soglio”. As Mozart singing goes, this was dry and tentative.
The gorgeous Aubade from Lalo’s Le Roi D’Ys found his old elegance and one delicious ascent into head-voice; “Ange si pur” from Donizetti’s La Favorite further refined the caress of the portamento and there were a couple of substantial encores: a swarthy Zarzuela number “Adios Granada” and Gounod’s Romeo where, notwithstanding the narrowness of the Florez timbre, he opened his heart and sound to touching effect.