Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The sound of genius

To the Royal Opera House last night for Don Pasquale, with Juan Diego Florez as Ernesto. The production is by Jonathan Miller. The critics have been a bit sniffy about it. But when Florez opens his mouth, you stop caring about anything else.

I don't believe I've ever heard a voice like this before, and I've heard a few good ones. It is so pure, so 'true', so focused; the sound is powerful, but the phrasing so musical and so filled with expressive intelligence that it makes most other big-time tenors (such as they are) seem crass by comparison. It's like the sound of Heifetz playing the violin in many respects and the effect is the same: you can do nothing but submit in astonishment and gratitude that such a thing exists on this planet and you have been lucky enough to encounter it. If we have a Caruso, this guy is it. He's good-looking too, but with sounds like this, one might not care if he wasn't (and his costume & make-up for this 18th-century-styled production made as little of those looks as it possibly could). And heavens, he's only 31 - where does he go from here?