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Juan Diego Flórez Sings Opera Greats at Carnegie Hall

Juan Diego Flórez photo by Chris Lee

A thus far superb season at Carnegie Hall continued splendidly on the afternoon of Sunday, November 18th with a recital of 19th-century European music sung by the superb, tremendously appealing tenor, Juan Diego Flórez, excellently accompanied by pianist Vincenzo Scalera.
The program was notable for showcasing some less familiar repertory, with the first half devoted to works by Italian composers, opening with two by Gioachino Rossini: “Addio ai viennesi”, a concert song from early in his career, and “Mi lagnerò tacendo”, one of several of his settings of a text by the famous 18th-century librettist, Pietro Metastasio. Selections by Gaetano Donizetti followed, beginning with the charming Waltz for Piano in C Major played by Scalera alone. Flórez then performed the exquisite “Una furtiva lagrima” from L’elisir  d’amore, in which production the singer has triumphed to deserved acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera. After this he sang the recitative “Tombe degli avi miei” and the aria “Fra poco a me ricovero” from the celebratedLucia di Lamermoor.The first portion of the afternoon concluded with music by Giuseppe Verdi: “Ô toi que j’ai chérie” from the 1863 Paris revival of Les vêpres siciliennes, now most famous for its marvelous overture, and the cavatina-cabaletta from the seldom staged I Lombardi alla prima crociata,“La mia letizia infondere” and the second, faster version of “Come poteva un angelo.”
The other half of the program mostly comprised by French music, starting with several works by Jules Massenet: the art song “Ouvre tes yeux bleus” from Poème d’amour, succeeded by two arias from Manon, which was adapted from the classic novel by Abbé Prevost, “En fermant les yeux” and “Ah! fuyez, douce image.” Scalera then played the lovely “Méditation” from Thaïs, less saccharine scored for solo piano than in the original version.
There then ensued two selections from operas adapted from books by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Salut! demeure chaste et pure” from Charles Gounod’s Faust and “Pourquoi me réveiller” from Massenet’s Werther.The concert concluded with the beautiful “Che gelida manina” from Giacomo Puccini’s enormously popular La Bohème.
Enthusiastic applause elicited an astonishing seven encores, beginning with three songs in Flórez’s native Spanish which he performed with his guitar: “Bésame mucho”, “La flor de la canela” by Chabuca Granda of Peru, the singer’s homeland, and “La Paloma”. Scalera then returned to the stage to accompany "Pour mon âme, quel destin!" from Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, the aria that propelled Flórez to superstardom at the Metropolitan Opera. He then delivered Agustín Lara’s “Granada” and, finally, “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. It was a stunning end to a wonderful afternoon.

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