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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Italia'
Artist - Juan Diego Flórez

For those not in the classical know, Juan Diego Flórez is a Peruvian operatic tenor, particularly known for his roles in Rossini operas. Indeed, Flórez's first big breakthrough and professional debut came at the Rossini Festival in 1996. At the age of 23, he stepped in to take the leading tenor role Matilde di Shabran when Bruce Ford became ill. He made his debut at La Scala in the same year as the Chevalier danois in Gluck's Armide.

Juan Diego Flórez, Deccas dashing tenor, the king of the bel canto repertory, now joins the illustrious list of tenors to record an album of ever-popular Neapolitan and Italian songs, including some in arrangements made for his idol and mentor Luciano Pavarotti.

All the classic favorites are here from "'O Sole Mio" to "Arriverderci Roma," "Mattinata" and "Non Ti Scordar di Me" and to breathe fresh life into this well-known music many of the songs have been newly arranged to evoke the feel of an authentic Neapolitan café band. For these Juan Diego is joined by the star mandolin player Avi Avital and acclaimed accordionist Ksenija Sidorova. Best-selling guitarist Craig Ogden also joins Juan Diego for two songs.

To complete the full Italian flavor these recordings were made in the Italian seaside resort of Fano, just south of Pesaro where Juan Diego makes his summer home as Pavarotti did before him. For the orchestral tracks the Pesaro-based Filarmonica Giacchino Rossini is conducted by the gifted young Italian Carlo Tenan.

I have to say, that listening to the songs was an intensely emotional experience for me: having not heard many of those songs for years, I found myself back to times about which I had almost entirely forgotten. It was not just the songs themselves, but the way Flórez becomes the perfect exponent for the Italian-flavored sensuality of the lyrical gems.