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Juan Diego Florez

Thirty year old Peruvian operatic sensation Juan Diego Flórez displays his extraordinary vocal gift during this film.

It tracks his musical journey from aspiring pop singer in Lima to young star of the international opera circuit.

Flórez has caught the public's attention with his high and finely cultivated voice, known in the trade as tenore di grazia (light tenor).

Following his eagerly anticipated return to Lima to perform in the city's premier concert hall to an audience of 3,000, The South Bank Show met his father, a well-known Peruvian folk singer who has had a huge influence on his son's career.

With his burgeoning interest in music, Flórez would regularly accompany his father to the clubs he performed in, often joining him on stage.

They relive this experience as they perform a duet for this film.

Music formed an integral part of Flórez's childhood. With encouragement from his family, he knew from a young age that his life's ambition was to be a singer.

Participating in many music festivals, Flórez began to make a name for himself as a pop singer but realised he possessed an exceptional classical voice and had to decide on whether to pursue a career in popular or classical music.

At the age of 20 he won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he met the acclaimed Peruvian singer Ernesto Palacio whose advice and guidance helped Flórez find his true voice, turning him into opera's new prodigy.

These vocal attributes caught the attention of many when, in 1996 he made his official debut in Matilde di Shabran at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro.

He was asked to step in at the last minute when another tenor fell ill, and this set him firmly on to the road of success.

Since then he has quickly developed a successful international career and is now considered to be one of the most important tenors in the world today.

He is one of the finest exponents of the bel canto operas of the early 19th century, in particular the works of Rossini and Donizetti.

Flórez's gift as a singer shines through when challenged with these demanding arias and he reveals the mastery of this particular technique as he performs one of Rossini's most flamboyant arias, Si, sperer voglio contento from Semiramide for The South Bank Show.

Contributors to this film include Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

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