In his latest Decca DVD release, bel canto star Juan Diego Flórez undertakes the role of Elvino in Bellini’s romantic drama, playing opposite the mercurial French soprano, Natalie Dessay, in the Met’s striking, modern-dress production from March 2009. Bellini’s romantic opera La Sonnambula (1831), hinges on the love and misunderstanding between Elvino and Amina (the ‘sleepwalker’ of the title). Discovered in the bedroom of Rodolfo, Amina is assumed to have been unfaithful, and Elvino cancels their wedding. But in the dramatic final scene, he witnesses Amina sleepwalking, understands her innocence, and all ends happily. Mary Zimmerman’s production plays with the dual realities of a rehearsal of the opera and a performance of the opera itself.
A year after the two hundredth anniversary of Gaetano Donizetti's birth (1797) and 150 years after his death (1848), the Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla chose to open its 1998-9 operatic season with four performances of Alahor in Granata, an almost forgotten opera by the composer. This is an event al a huge historical importance since it marks the first time that the opera has been performed in the XXth century. Alahor in Granata was first performed in the Teatro Carolino in Palermo on the 7th of January 1826 but, although the opera was again staged in the same city in 1830, it later passed into oblivion and has never been performed ever since. Up until now, as was the case with many of Donizetti's works, a hundred and seventy two years after its premiére, we had very little news about this beautifull masterpiece's original fate. Perhaps the fact that the music score was never published at the time of its creation, and the fact that Donizetti was to use some of its musical passages in some of his later works, lead us to assume that during his life, the composer gave little or no importance to this operas youthful score.
The Metropolitan Opera give this live performance of Rossini's work based on the poem by Sir Walter Scott. Michele Mariotti conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus with Joyce DiDonato as Elena, the lady of the lake, who loves the heroic Malcolm (Daniela Barcellona). However, King James V (Juan Diego Flórez) arrives in the Highlands and sets his sights on Elena while her father Douglas (Oren Gradus), who is rebelling against the King's rule, promises his daughter to clan chief Rodrigo (John Osborn).
Tenor superstar Juan Diego Flórez adds the role of Prince Ramiro in Rossini’s sparkling comedy La Cenerentola to his rapidly growing catalog of performances on Decca. In Joan Font’s strikingly colorful, toy-town staging, he is joined by one of today’s great Cinderellas, the American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato. The two have wowed audiences with their virtuoso performances in the Metropolitan Opera’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia which was broadcast live in HD to movie theaters and on PBS.
This recording of La Sonnambula is notable on a number of fronts. It's the first recording of the opera based on a 2004 critical edition of the score that confirms the leading role was indeed written for a mezzo-soprano, although it has been performed by sopranos for much of its history. (Among the first Aminas were the celebrated mezzos Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran.) It's also the first recording using period instruments, in this case Orchestra La Scintilla, based at the Basel Opera and conducted by Alessandro de Marchi in an idiomatic and lively reading. And, as the promotional materials trumpet, it's the first recorded collaboration between superstars Cecilia Bartoli and Juan Diego Flórez. Although less hoopla is made of him, the recording also features a superbly lyrical performance by baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo.
‘Everybody loves Mozart’s music. You don’t have to understand why you love it, but you do. I’ve always wanted to record it, but now is the time. I finally feel I’m ready to convey the expressiveness, the simplicity, the universality – in short, the magic - of Mozart.’ – Juan Diego Flórez.
In spring 2011, the first-ever performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera of Rossini's Le Comte Ory brought standing ovations and critical-acclaim. The spectacular trio of Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato ignited vocal and theatrical fireworks. Le Comte Ory tells the story of a libidinous and cunning nobleman who disguises himself first as a hermit and then as a nun ("Sister Colette") in order to gain access to the virtuous Countess Adele, whose brother is away at the Crusades. The 2011 Met production was directed by the Tony Award-winning Broadway director Bartlett Sher, who in recent years has also staged Il barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffman for the Met. Sher presented the action as an opera within an opera, updated the action by a few centuries and giving the costume designer, Catherine Zuber, the opportunity to create some particularly extravagant headgear. Juan Diego Florez starred as the title role while Diana Damrau plays his love interest, Countess Adele, and Joyce DiDonato was in breeches as his pageboy Isolier. The trio had appeared in Sher's production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.