Juan Diego Florez and Ian Rosenblatt go back a long way – to JDF’s first recital in England in 2001. Rosenblatt, whose day job is running the flourishing legal practice Rosenblatt Solicitors, spotted the young Peruvian tenor at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, and immediately invited him to take part in the newly launched Rosenblatt Recitals at St John’s Smith Square. Florez kicked off the season on 7 January 2001, and the pair haven’t looked back since – Florez to an international career on the High Cs and Rosenblatt to what is now a series of popular musical events in the London calendar.
Over the years the Recitals have gained a reputation for spotting new talent as well as enticing established opera singers to appear in this low key venue, the baroque church of St John’s designed by Thomas Archer, set in a secluded square near the Houses of Parliament. The list of names that have since become familiar to opera lovers include Ailish Tynan (2003); Vittorio Grigolo (2004); Joseph Calleja (2005); Maxim Mironov (2006); Elizabeth Watts (2007); Ailyn Perez (who has just been awarded the Richard Tucker Prize); and quite a few more. Ticket prices at St John’s Smith Square range from a very reasonable £10-£20.
Juan Diego Florez’s name crops up regularly on the list. Last year he gave a Rosenblatt Recital at the Royal Festival Hall. 2012 will see his fifth appearance for Rosenblatt, this time at the Royal Albert Hall on 8 May. The programme includes, apart from the expected fare of Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi, a selection of Zarzuela.
JDF fans are in a twitter as to whether the master of bel canto has picked a venue that is rather too large – it has a maximum capacity of 5,000 compared to his ideal setting of the 2,250 seat Royal Opera. The slim and handsome Florez is the first tenor to dare to give a solo recital at the Albert Hall since Luciano Pavarotti – who filled the Hall in every way. Ticket prices are £22-£66. Bookings:“>www.rosenblattrecitals.comor RAH box office: 020 7589 8212.
Also worth reserving the date for the Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz, who gives a Rosenblatt Recital at St John’s Smith Square on 20 June, singing arias by composers including Paisiello, Parisotti, Gluck, Handel, Bellini, Duparc, Guridi, Gimenez and Luna (the final two being zarzuela). It sounds delightfully rarified, but don’t be surprised if you get something from The Sound of Music as an encore. A member of the revered Vienna State Opera, the rising lyric soprano is not snooty about an occasional cross-over and has been performing the role of Maria in The Sound of Music at Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet.
Bookings: St John’s Smith Square box office: 020 7222 1061. Prices: £10-£20.