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  • Watch: Juan Diego Flórez on swapping pop for opera – ‘I grew up with the music of The Beatles’

Watch: Juan Diego Flórez on swapping pop for opera – ‘I grew up with the music of The Beatles’

The Peruvian tenor on the journey from singing pop songs in his mother’s pub to becoming an internationally renowned opera singer.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

7 December 2015 at 4.32pm | Comment on this article

Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez was the subject of a ROH Insight event when performing in The Royal Opera’s Orphée et Eurydice earlier this Season.

In his hometown of Lima, Peru, the young Flórez began his musical journey imitating Elvis Presley and singing his favourite Beatles’ songs in his mother’s pub. ‘I had a whole repertoire’, he joked, ‘I am a Beatles fan: I know all the songs.’

Flórez wanted to be a pop star but when at the age of 17 his high school teacher introduced him to Zarzuelas – Spanish operettas – he found a new admiration for classical music.

‘People were like “What is that?” but I was like “Wow, this could help me in my pub.” I realized I liked classical singing and I liked classical music for the first time. Growing up until then I had never really been in contact with it.’

Now a global star and a regular performer on the Royal Opera House stage, Flórez talks about his previous Royal Opera roles including Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and most recently as Orphée in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice.

‘I am on stage the whole time,’ says Flórez about the challenge of Gluck’s opera. John Fulljames’s recent production saw the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House positioned above the stage, which placed an unusual demand on the singers. ‘It is difficult to get used to the fact that they [the orchestra] are behind you, and you cannot see them, and you cannot hear them so well, and the conductor cannot see you,’ he says. Though Flórez concedes that he found the experience ‘a lovely challenge’.

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

Find out about upcoming ROH Insights events.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

7 December 2015 at 4.32pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Elvis Presley, insight, interview, juan diego florez, pop music, Sean Rafferty, The Beatles

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