Juan Diego Flórez: L'Amour
This recital from Juan Diego Flórez marks a new departure into different areas of 19th-century French repertoire. But the voice, despite having recently bulked out a little, essentially remains a bright, light (and sometimes a little tight) lyric instrument, famously flexible and free at the top but still with a somewhat limited timbral range – something emphasised when, as here, it is closely recorded.
As such, the more wistful, gentle numbers, where the tenor’s musicality shines through and the voice is allowed to relax, struck me as the most enjoyable. The main part of the Serenade from Bizet’s opera – more Provence than Perth in feel, admittedly – is sung with touching gentleness; Iopas’s glorious ‘O blonde Cérès’ from Les Troyens is a delight but even here there could be a little more light and shade. The sprightlier numbers are a lot of fun, the first Boïeldieu aria (capped with a ringing top D) and the Adam in particular; the final hushed phrase of the Dame blanche aria is meltingly done, too. He’s on something like home ground with the Donizetti scene, which is securely and cleanly sung.
The main interest, however, probably lies in the two arias from Werther, an opera Flórez is due to tackle in the theatre in a couple of years’ time. He sings them with characteristic elegance but I can’t imagine this – or Gounod’s Roméo – is ever going to be anything like a natural fit, and he relies on the engineering to save him from getting swallowed up by the orchestra (decently conducted throughout) in the climaxes.