How Juan Diego Flórez launched his career at the ROF and became an honorary citizen of Pesaro 20 years later

One of the most famous singers in opera today, Juan Diego Flórez perhaps doesn’t need an introduction. He performs in every major opera house in the world, is adored by fans and critics alike, and is the world’s leading bel canto tenor.

His career started auspiciously in Pesaro at the Rossini Opera Festival in 1996. Preparing for his professional debut with a minor role in Ricciardo e Zoraide, Flórez heard rumors that the tenor for the lead role of Corradino in Matilde di Shabran had withdrawn. With people around him claiming he could sing that part, he went to the festival’s artistic director to discover if the possibility was true.

Flórez talks about the experience in an interview with Opera magazine:

When [the artistic director] saw me, he took me into his office, and he said, “We have a tragedy. The tenor has cancelled. Do you think you can do it?” I said, “Well, I need to see the part.” So he showed me the entrance of Corradino, and said, “If you can do this you can do the whole opera.” I wanted to say yes, but I wanted him to think of me as a smart guy, so I said, “I have to look at it,” and I only looked at the entrance again. Then I went back and said, “Yes, I have seen the score, and I can do it.” Then I realized what a difficult role it was. It wasn’t just the entrance!’

From the same interview, about his opening night:

‘I always sang the entrance of Corradino before the show as a warm-up. So there I was singing this entrance, and I felt very stiff and nervous but I managed. On the first night, when I came out for the applause, I wasn’t expecting anything, but it was huge applause that really scared me – like a bomb. But then relief, of course.’

That huge applause was heard around the opera world. With his first performance in Pesaro at the age of 23, Flórez launched himself into a career that presently resides in the stratosphere. He has performed many times at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Liceu, the Paris Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and more. At the Met alone he has close to a hundred appearances – performing the lead in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L’Italiana in Algeri, Don Paquale, Le Comte Ory, L’Elisir d’Amore, and La Fille du Régiment.

A frequent performer at the Rossini Opera Festival, Flórez’s appearances are legendary to the fans who travel from around the world to listen to him. When one hears the immense applause he receives in Pesaro, one can immediately tell how very much appreciated and very much loved he is by the Rossini faithful.

In the summer of 2014, Flórez will be teaching a master class at the Academia Rossiniana:

“I consider the experience of the Academia Rossiniana of ROF critical for a young singer. It is here that you can learn, along with colleagues from all over the world, the style of bel canto, the musicological respect for the score, the practical and direct approach to the theater of Rossini. All this in an environment of absolute international importance.”

“You know, I try to connect with the audience. That’s one of my goals also. I mean, you’re performing for an audience and you are singing for them, you want to move them, you want to make a change in them, something different. You know, they come to see the opera, and I think they have to leave the theater thinking different or feeling something different.

I try to sing not for inside myself. It’s a little bit an image. But I try to sing from my voice out for the public in a way sometimes. I want to – that they feel what I’m feeling, in a way. Of course, sometimes, it’s not always possible, really, because you can have a cold or you can have stomach aches, and that’s more difficult to communicate in those points. But when you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable, then you are feeling the music, you’re feeling what you’re singing. And then you just communicate. And that’s the most beautiful moment because you feel – the audience can feel what you’re really feeling. And that’s wonderful.”

Juan Diego Flórez in an Interview with NPR (h/t Voce di Tenore)

Rossini Opera Festival Performances

  • William Tell, Arnold (2013)
  • Matilde di Shabran, Corradino (2012, 2004, 1996)
  • Zelmira, Ilo (2009)
  • Il presagio romantico with soprano Julia Lezhneva (2008)
  • Otello, Rodrigo (2007)
  • Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Il Conte d’Almaviva (2005)
  • Le Comte Ory, title role (2003)
  • Concerti di Belcanto. Music of Falconieri, Mozart, Gluck, Massenet, Bizet, Rossini (2003)
  • La Donna del Lago, Giacomo V (2016,2001)
  • Stabat Mater, tenore (2001)
  • La Cenerentola, Don Ramiro (2000, 1998)
  • Concerti di Belcanto. Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti (2000)
  • Il Viaggio a Reims, Conte di Libenskof (1999)
  • Petite Messe Sollennelle, tenore (1999, 1997)
  • Il signor Bruschino, Florville (1997)



(Photo Credit: Studio Amati Bacciardi)

Fast-forward 20 years from his debut! Florez is awarded honorary citizenship of Pesaro at the gala concert commemorating his 20 years. Below is the citation in Italian with an approximate translation.

“Il tenore Juan Diego Florez è nato artisticamente al Rossini Opera Festival diventandone protagonista e presenza assidua. E’ unanimemente considerato il maggiore interprete di Rossini nel mondo. Ha partecipato a 16 edizioni della manifestazione, con 22 esibizioni complessive. Un record e un privilegio che nessun teatro al mondo può vantare, contribuendo all’affermazione internazionale del Rossini Opera Festival e alla diffusione del nome di Pesaro nel mondo.
Pesaro è diventata la sua casa italiana, dove risiede abitualmente durante l’anno”

Here is an approximate translation:
“The tenor Juan Diego Florez had his artistic birth at the Rossini Opera Festival, becoming a protagonist and constant presence. He is unanimously considered the greatest interpreter of Rossini in the world. He has participated in 16 editions of the Rossini Opera Festival , with a total of 22 performances ( with multiple repeats, ed.)A record and a privilege that no other theater in the world can boast, helping the international success of the Rossini Opera Festival i and the spread of the name of Pesaro throughout the world.Pesaro has become his Italian home, where he resides during the year “.