For tenor, bel canto comes naturally

May 15, 2006|By TIM SMITH | TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

In mid-1830s' Paris, the music world heard a totally unexpected sound from a human voice, which, the story goes, Rossini likened to "the squawk of a capon having its throat cut."

But soon enough, audiences couldn't get enough of that sound, and it still heats up audiences today: The tenor's high C. The money note. Produced not by falsetto, but full-throttle from the chest, a technique first credited to Gilbert Duprez.

The Italian Girl in Algiers Performances are at 7 tonight and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, with five more performances through June 3 at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues, Northwest. Tickets are $45 to $290. Call 202-295-2400 or 800-876-7372, or visit dc-opera.org.

Juan Diego Florez

Born: Jan. 13, 1973, in Lima, Peru

Studied: National Conservatory of Music in Lima, Curtis Institute in Philadelphia

Major debuts: Rossini Festival, Pesaro, Italy, 1994; La Scala, Milan, 1993; Metropolitan opera, 2002

Latest solo recording: Sentimiento Latino (Decca)

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