Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is Juan José de León The Future Juan Diego Flórez?

Tenor  Juan José de León has just been named the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council's Southwest Regional Auditions in San Antonio, Texas. The selections that won him the distinction included "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!" from Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment and "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Of the former 9 high-C extravaganza he said, "I wanted to wow the audience and judges, and I can roll out of bed and hit a high C, so I gave them what I do best." The next stop for the 26-year old de León will be New York City for the national semifinals competition in March on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. From this round, ten finalists will sing in the Grand Finals Concert accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and broadcast nationwide on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Network. The top prize for five lucky winners is an award of $15,000. Learn more about the tenor and watch a video performance after the jump.

Rehearsing at Glimmerglass Opera in 2010
Juan José de León was born in Mathis, Texas and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, from the age of 6. He became interested in music while attending Baker Middle School and defied a music teacher declaring he was tone deaf to go on to participate in all-state choir. He studied voice at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts with Virginia Dupuy and graduated with a M.M. in 2010. "Juan's voice is a remarkable instrument," Dupuy said. "Whether singing Mexican operatic, show tunes or pop music, you believe him because he's so engaged in his art." While in school he was a member of the Dallas Opera Emerging Young Artists Program. During the summer of 2010, he participated in the Glimmerglass Operas's Young American Artists Program. In early January he took part in master classes with tenor Marcello Giordani in New York. "It was amazing to stand two feet away with him singing high C's right in your face," de León said. "I've had great coaches and teachers who have helped me. Winning this Metropolitan Opera audition opportunity is a huge deal." This February he will make his Dallas Opera debut in Roméo et Juliette as Benvolio. He will return to Cooperstown, New York, to sing with Glimmerglass Opera this summer as Remendado in Carmen, Jimmy O'Keefe in Later the Same Evening as well as a chorus member in Medea.