We are particularly close to this extraordinary artist because the debut of his career with “Matilde di Shabran” took place right in Pesaro, at the Rossini Opera Festival, to which he takes part every year since 1996.
In Summer 1996 Juan Diego was already in Pesaro, trying the “Ricciardo and Zoraida” at the Rossini Opera Festival. Shortly before the opening of the Festival, the tenor of the Opera “Matilde di Shabran”, who played the role of Corradino, canceled his attendance due to illness. It’s easy to imagine the embarrassment of the organizers of the Festival, which now had to look for a replacement capable of supporting the difficult role in a strange opera, and just a few days before the debut. The Artistic Director Luigi Ferrari decided to give the role to the young Juan Diego Florez, that was only 23 years old. The tenor wanted to immediately accept the offer but, showing great professionalism, asked Ferrari a few hours over lunch to watch the score in order to decide whether to accept or not. Juan Diego, after seeing the first pages Juan Diego went to Ferrari and accepted the offer.
Everybody had to work hardly to prepare Juan Diego in such a short time. The young tenor proved scenes without even knowing the music, and at the end of those febrile days the debut came on 13 August 1996. The success was huge!
Since that time, several theaters of the world were interested on the young tenor. Among them the temple of Opera: Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Juan Diego made his debut at La Scala on December 7, 1996, the traditional date of the inauguration of the season, under the direction of the Maestro Riccardo Muti.
Juan Diego visited La Scala as a tourist a few months before and, contemplating the splendid hall, said: “Here I’ll sing in ten years.” He didn’t know that ten years would be only ten months!
His repertoire includes 32 works:
I Capuleti e i Montecchi, La Sonnambula e I Puritani of Bellini; Alahor in Granata, Don Pasquale, Elisabetta, L’Elisir d’Amore, La Fille du Régiment e Maria Stuarda of Donizetti; Armide e Orfeo of Gluck; La Vedova Allegra of Lehar; Il Tutore Burlato of Martín y Soler; L’Etoile du Nord of Mayerbeer; Mitridate of Mozart; Nina ossia la Pazza per Amore of Paisiello; Gianni Schicchi of Puccini; Adelaide di Borgogna, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, Le Comte Ory, L’Italiana in Algeri, Matilde di Shabran, Otello, Semiramide, Il Signor Bruschino, Il Viaggio a Reims e Zelmira of Rossini; Il Cappello di Paglia de Firenze of Rota; Fledermaus di J. Strauss; Falstaff e Rigoletto of Verdi
He collaborated with the most famous conductors of the word, as Roberto Abbado, Yves Abel, Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Wun Chung, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, John Elliot Gardiner, Gianluigi Gelmetti, James Levine, Jesús López-Cobos, Michele Mariotti, Neville Marriner, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano, Carlo Rizzi, Christophe Rousset, Nello Santi, Marcello Viotti, Alberto Zedda.
Juan Diego Florez maintains a close relationship with his country, he created a Foundation in Peru that targets the creation of children’s and youth orchestras and choirs. The project was inspired by the System Orquestas de Venezuela, and has as its main aim to remove children of the most vulnerable sectors of the population from various dangers: drugs, delinquency, child prostitution, etc.