Somebody might have counted how many times Juan Diego Flórez hit those top notes at last night’s recital at La Scala, whatever, it was a hell of a lot. Although sometimes it felt like being repeatedly hit on the head with a mallet, it was certainly exciting. Being that so few people in the world can confront a feat of this nature – even tenors – it is a wonder to behold. Yes behold. With his tenor gestures each note is semaphored, and for a long-held final note, there is usually a step forward as well, with arms held up and out, Pavarotti-style. However, wouldn’t it be interesting if one day he might just resist impressing with his vocal gymnastics, and sing a lullaby, something intimate, something without an ‘acuto‘.
But I’m not complaining. How could you, with an artist so generous. After a demanding programme veering from Handel’s Semele to Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, touching on Rossini, Meyerbeer, Bellini and zarzuela composers along the way (even Fauré’s Après un rêve was demanding with Flórez’s delivery) he gave so many flashy encores that he could almost put Edita Gruberova to shame. Arias such as ‘Cessa di piu resistere’ from Barbiere… the easy stuff.
A very happy crowd left La Scala last night.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.