Juan Diego Flórez Salom (born January 13, 1973) is a Peruvian operatic tenor, particularly known for his roles in bel canto operas. On June 4, 2007, he received his country's highest decoration, the Gran Cruz de la Orden del Sol del Perú. Juan Diego Flórez was born in Lima, Peru, on January 13, 1973 where his father, Rubén Flórez, was a noted guitarist and singer of Peruvian popular and criolla music. In an interview in the Peruvian newspaper Ojo, Flórez recounted his early days when his mother managed a pub with live music and he worked as a replacement singer whenever the main attraction called in sick. "It was a tremendous experience for me, since most of those who were regulars at the pub were of a certain age, so I had to be ready to sing anything from huayños to Elvis Presley music and, in my mind, that served me a great deal because, in the final analysis, any music that is well structured—whether it is jazz, opera, or pop—is good music". Initially intending to pursue a career in popular music, he entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Lima at the age of 17. His classical voice emerged in the course of his studies there under Maestro Andrés Santa María. During this time, he became a member of the Coro Nacional of Peru and sang as a soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass and Rossini's Petite messe solennelle. He received a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he studied from 1993 to 1996 and began singing in student opera productions in the repertory that is still his specialty today, Rossini and the bel canto operas of Bellini and Donizetti. During this period, he also studied with Marilyn Horne at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. In 1994 the Peruvian tenor, Ernesto Palacio invited him to Italy to work on a recording of Vicente Martín y Soler's opera Il Tutore Burlato. He subsequently became Flórez's teacher, mentor and manager and has had a profound influence on his career. Flórez's first breakthrough, and professional debut came in 1996, at the Rossini Festival in the Italian city of Pesaro, Rossini's birthplace. At the age of 23, he stepped in to take the leading tenor role in Matilde di Shabran when Bruce Ford became ill. He made his debut at La Scala in the same year as the Chevalier danois (Danish Knight) in Gluck's Armide, and later in the year he sang the role of Georges in Meyerbeer's L'étoile du nord with Wexford Festival Opera. His Covent Garden debut followed in 1997 where he sang the role of Count Potoski in a world premiere concert performance of Donizetti's Elisabetta. Debuts followed at the Vienna State Opera in 1999 as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2002, again as Count Almaviva. On February 20, 2007, the opening night of Donizetti's La fille du régiment at La Scala, Flórez broke the theater's 74-year-old tradition of no encores when he reprised "Ah! mes amis" with its nine high C's following an "overwhelming" ovation from the audience. He repeated this solo encore at New York's Metropolitan Opera House on April 21, 2008, the first singer to do so there since 1994. Flórez is also active on the concert stages of Europe, North America, and South America. Amongst the many venues in which he has given concerts and recitals are the Wigmore Hall in London, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Teatro Segura in Lima, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In a departure from his usual repertoire, he sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Broadway musical Carousel at the Berlin Live 8 concert in 2005. He was signed by Decca in 2001 and since then has released six solo recital CDs on the Decca label: Rossini Arias, which won the 2003 Cannes Classical Award; Una furtiva lagrima, which won the 2004 Cannes Classical Award; Great Tenor Arias which won the 2005 Echo Klassik award for the best arias and duets recital; Sentimiento Latino; Arias for Rubini and most recently, Bel Canto Spectacular. His latest recording is Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, recorded live in May 2008. In addition to his official discography, almost all his professionally performed roles have been preserved in radio broadcasts, and many also by television. Flórez has a leggero tenor voice that is audible in even the largest houses due to the predominance of high frequencies in its harmonic structure. Its compass is two octaves, up to and including the high E flat (Zelmira, 2009 in live performance, also on CD in an aria by Bellini—"All udir de padre afflitto"—in the CD Arias for Rubini), the higher part of its range being particularly strong and brilliant, with almost no sense of effort, while the lowest notes are comparatively weaker. The head and chest registers are perfectly integrated, with no audible break in the passaggio. His breath control is impeccable, allowing the longest phrases to be sustained with apparent ease. The ornaments of bel canto, including the trill, are well executed, and stylistic errors such as intrusive aspirates generally eschewed. Perhaps the most distinctive technical accomplishment is the singer's mastery of coloratura heard to best effect in his Idreno (Semiramide) and Corradino (Matilde di Shabran). Juan Diego Flórez has been recognized by his native country with several awards and distinctions. In May 2004, he received the Orden al Mérito Cultural de Lima, from the Mayor of Lima; the Orden al Mérito por servicios distinguidos en el grado de Gran Cruz from President Alejandro Toledo; and was named an Honorary Professor of San Martín de Porres University. On June 4, 2007, he received his country's highest honor, the Gran Cruz de la Orden El Sol del Perú, from President Alan García. He has been an Austrian Kammersanger since 2012. Flórez also appeared on the 2-sol stamp, part of a series of five stamps honouring contemporary Peruvian musicians issued on November 29, 2004. It is highly unusual for a living opera singer to have been honoured in his home country this way, particularly one so young. (Flórez was 31 at the time). (The portrait of Flórez used on the stamp was by British photographer, Trevor Leighton, and was also used for the cover of his 2003 CD Una Furtiva Lagrima.) From the classical music world he has received the Premio Abbiati 2000 (awarded by Italian critics for the best singer of the year); the Rossini d'oro; the Bellini d'oro; the Premio Aureliano Pertile; the Tamagno Prize; and the L'Opera award (Migliore Tenore) for his 2001 performance in La sonnambula at La Scala. In 2009, Flórez was nominated for the Best Classical Vocal Performance in the 52nd Grammy Awards for his album, Bel Canto Spectacular (Decca). Flórez married German-born Australian, Julia Trappe, in a private civil ceremony on April 23, 2007 in Vienna. They held a religious ceremony at the Basilica Cathedral in Lima on April 5, 2008, which some of Peru's leading citizens, including President Alan García and author Mario Vargas Llosa, attended. Flórez was present at the birth of his son, Leandro, who was born on April 9, 2011, less than an hour before his father took to the stage in Le comte Ory, broadcast live around the world from the Met. A daughter, Lucia Stella, was born in the family home in Pesaro, Italy, on January 1, 2014.