Juan Diego Flórez Matches Pavarotti

Photo: AP

Not since the early seventies, when Luciano Pavarotti knocked opera’s nine most famous high notes into the Met balcony to become King of the High C’s, has a tenor done justice to the role of Tonio in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment. Last night, though, Juan Diego Flórez plucked the chain of C’s in Tonio’s aria “Ah, mes amis” like daisies, making it look less like a feat than like fun. With his slender voice and lithe silhouette, Flórez looks, sounds, and acts nothing at all like Pavarotti, but he did get a Luciano-size ovation. And when the applause finally subsided, he did the number again, with a grin that suggested he could keep ringing those top notes all night. That scant minute of music alone was enough to turn Flórez into a princeling of the high C’s – but not to out-dazzle soprano Natalie Dessay, who sang the role of regimental daughter with a glint in her voice and fierce comedic control. The public didn’t know whom to roar for loudest. —Justin Davidson