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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ AT OBERLIN

Sunday, October 30, 2006

Juan Diego Florez sang a recital at Oberlin College's Finney chapel today to a cherring, stamping, shouting crowd the like of which I haven't heard since the autumnal days of Callas and Tebaldi. The difference was, as Marilyn Horne commented later "You are hearing a magnificent artist in his absolute prime with all engines running and everything working."

Florez had an ingratiating "aw shucks" stage demeanor, endless legato, perfectly placed coloratura-no machine gun apsirating here-and ringing high Cs
(and Ds, thank you very much). Tonio's aria from Fille du regiment was the first of three encores!

The program opened with three Mozart arias: from Die Zauberfloete, Il re pastore and Il mio tesoro (Don Giovanni).
The tone was evenly porduced and the languages sung with undertanding and love. Il mio tesoro ran on with the elegance and effortlessness heard on the classic John McCormack recording made ninety years ago. There were Rossini arias from Il turco in Italia and Elisabetta d'Inghliterra. In this last Florez any semblance of youth and humor and became a warrior.There were luscious Peruvian songs, and an exquisite "Ouvre tes bleu yeux" by Massenet, which was all about line. Refreshingly, Florez ended the printed program with a contemplative aria from Donizetti's Linda di Chamonix.

Florez's stage presence sometimes threatened to induce sea sickness-he's a bopper and weaver-but to see this wonderful looking young man sing his heart out so thrillingly, well-like the song says, "I'll tell my grandchildren."

Encores: Ah, mes amis; La donna e mobile and one more Latin song.
The audience would have kept him all night.
This was first rate bel canto. Pianist Vincent Scalera matched Florez note for note for energy and elegance.

Not even the death of my van in the Oberlin parking lot at 11 pm-which had to be towed to Columbus ($377.88!) at 3 a.m. spoiled the sound of that wonderful singing and playing still ringing through my sleepy ears.

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