Juan Diego Florez, Barbican, London

4.00

Juan Diego Florez is a rare breed. A tenor, yes, but a very particular kind of tenor. There are various terms for his voice type. The Italians might call him a tenore lirico-leggero(light tenor) or, more fittingly, a tenore di grazia (graceful tenor). But none of this gives you much indication of what makes him so special. It has partly to do with a technique so effortless it is barely apparent, but more significant is an evenness of tone that enables him to access the stratospheric upper register without any apparent break. Top Cs and Ds are almost casually negotiated; scales and arpeggios glide off the vocal chords.

He arrived at this Barbican recital with apologies for a cold, which had days earlier deprived a Carnegie Hall audience of the pleasure of his company. And it is a pleasure - not just on account of his boyish charm but because of the instinctive elegance and ardour of his musicianship. Presenting an opera star like this, on an empty stage with just a piano (Vincenzo Scalera was an engaging partner) exposes them in ways that none but the most accomplished can sustain.

With Florez there's an openness that touches and charms. To use an unfashionable word, there's a sincerity about his singing. He began with Tamino transfixed by Pamina's portrait in Die Zauberflöte. The phrasing was rapt but unfussy, the legato seamless. Turning to "Il mio tesoro" from Don Giovanni he made you wonder why the vengeful passage-work floors so many distinguished singers. Not only was it flawless, but it meant something.

And so it went on. Cold or no cold, the Rossinian fireworks (his speciality) were brilliantly forthcoming. The arpeggios sparkled, the scales cascaded with not so much as a single bumpy aspirate. But then he stilled the hall with a Bellini song "La ricordanza" and, in a clinching phrase of exquisite artistry, quietly brought the house down.

For encores he pulled out the stops, finally banishing the cold completely with the nine top Cs of Tonio's solo in La Fille du Régiment, in which he opens at Covent Garden next month. But please, let's hear no more of this nonsense that he is "the next Pavarotti". He is Juan Diego Florez, and special.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable