Elizabeth Jean Peters (October 15, 1926 – October 13, 2000) was an American film actress. She is known as a star of 20th Century Fox in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and as the second wife of Howard Hughes. Although possibly best remembered for her siren role in Pickup on South Street (1953), Peters was known for her resistance to being turned into a sex symbol. She preferred to play unglamorous, down-to-earth women.
Elizabeth Jean Peters was born on October 15, 1926, in East Canton, Ohio, the daughter of Elizabeth (née Diesel) and Gerald Peters, a laundry manager. Raised on a small farm in East Canton, Peters attended East Canton High School. She was raised as a Methodist. She went to college at the University of Michigan and later Ohio State University, where she studied to become a teacher and majored in literature.
While studying for a teaching degree at Ohio State, she entered and won the Miss Ohio State Pageant in the fall of 1945, besting eleven other finalists. She was awarded the grand prize of a screen test with 20th Century-Fox.
As her agent, Somebody Robinson accompanied her to Hollywood, and helped her secure a seven-year contract with Fox. After landing a contract in Hollywood, Peters moved there, where she initially lived with her aunt, Melba Diesel. She dropped out of college to become an actress, a decision she later regretted. (In the late 1940s, Peters returned to college, in between filming, to complete her work and obtain a degree.)
The decorated soldier and actor, Audie Murphy, met Peters when both were students at the Actors Lab. They had a very warm affair in 1946, before she met Howard Hughes.
It was announced that in her first film I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now (1947), she would play an "ugly duckling", supported by "artificial freckles and horn-rimmed glasses". She eventually withdrew from the film. Peters was tested in 1946 for a farm girl role in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948), but the producer and director decided she was not suitable.
Jean Peters was selected to replace Linda Darnell as the female lead in Captain from Castile (1947) opposite Tyrone Power, when Darnell was reassigned to save the production of Forever Amber. Although she had not yet made her screen debut, Peters was highly publicized. She received star treatment during the filming. Captain from Castile was a hit. Leonard Maltin wrote that afterwards, Peters spent the new decade playing "sexy spitfires, often in period dramas and Westerns."
She was offered a similar role in the western Yellow Sky (1948), but she refused the part, explaining it was "too sexy". As a result, the studio, frustrated by her stubbornness, put her on her first suspension.
For her second film, Deep Waters (1948), which Peters filmed in late 1947, she was reunited with her director from Captain from Castile, Henry King. On this, she commented: "It's really a break for me, because he knows where he's going and what he wants, and I naturally have great confidence in him." The film was not nearly as successful as Captain from Castile, but Peters was again noticed. She was named among the best five 'finds' of the year, among Barbara Bel Geddes, Valli, Richard Widmark and Wanda Hendrix.
She was next assigned to co-star next to Clifton Webb in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949), but Shirley Temple later replaced her.
In early 1949 Peters signed on to play Ray Milland's love interest in It Happens Every Spring (1949). For the role, she offered to bleach her hair, but the studio overruled this. Although the film became a success, most of the publicity was for Milland's performance.
Peters next starred alongside Paul Douglas in the period film Love That Brute (1950), for which she had to wear a dress so snug she was unable to sit. The film was originally titled Turned Up Toes, and Peters was cast in the film in June 1949, shortly after the release of It Happens Every Spring. To prepare for a singing and dancing scene, Peters took a few lessons with Betty Grable's dance instructor.
By 1950, Peters was almost forgotten by the public, although she had been playing lead roles since 1947. In late 1950, she was cast in a secondary role as a college girl in Take Care of My Little Girl (1951), a Jeanne Crain vehicle. A Long Beach newspaper reported that Peters gained her role by impressing Jean Negulesco with her sewing. She once became famous for playing a simple country girl, but as she grew up, the studio did not find her any more suitable roles.
At her insistence Jean Peters was given the title role in Anne of the Indies (1951), which the press declared was the film that finally brought her stardom.
Before its release, she was cast in Viva Zapata! (1952) opposite Marlon Brando. Julie Harris had been considered for this role.
Also in 1951, Peters had her first collaboration with Marilyn Monroe, when they had secondary roles in As Young as You Feel.
Peters was set to play the title role in the drama film Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (1952). It was the first time since the beginning of her career that Peters received this much publicity. While shooting the film in Hutchinson, Kansas, Peters was honored with the title 'Miss Wheatheart of America'.
In 1953 the director Samuel Fuller chose Peters over Marilyn Monroe for the part of Candy in Pickup on South Street. He said he thought Peters had the right blend of sex appeal and the tough-talking, streetwise quality he was seeking. Monroe, he said, was too innocent looking for the role. Shelley Winters and Betty Grable had previously been considered but both had turned it down. Because of the sexual attractiveness of her character, Peters was not thrilled with the role. She preferred playing more down-to-earth, unglamorous parts as she had done with Anne of the Indies (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952) and Lure of the Wilderness (1952).
For Pickup on South Street Peters was advised to bleach her hair but she refused to do so, wanting to avoid comparisons with Winters and Grable. She did agree to adopt a "sexy shuffle" for the role. She was helped by Marilyn Monroe to understand the role of a siren. Peters later said that she had enjoyed making the film, but announced in an interview that she was not willing to take on other siren roles. She said: "Pickup on South Street was fine for my career, but that doesn't mean I'm going to put on a tight sweater and skirt and slither around. I'm just not the type. On Marilyn Monroe it looks good. On me it would look silly." In another interview, Peters explained that playing down-to-earth and sometimes unwashed women have the most to offer in the way of drama.
A clothes horse seldom has lines or situations that pierce the outer layer and get into the core of life. After all, a woman in the latest Paris creation might feel and think like a plain, simple soul but the clothes she wears would prevent her from revealing exactly what she feels and thinks. One look in the mirror and she must live up to what she sees there. The same is true on screen.
Jean Peters and Marilyn Monroe starred together in another 1953 film noir, Niagara, also starring Joseph Cotten. Shooting of Niagara took place in the summer of 1952. Peters's character was initially the leading role, but the film eventually became a vehicle for Monroe, who was by that time more successful.
Peters's third film in 1953, A Blueprint for Murder, reunited her with Joseph Cotten. She was assigned to the film in December 1952 and told the press she liked playing in the film because it allowed her to sing, but there is no song by her in the picture, only the playing of a piano. Shortly after the film's premiere in July 1953, the studio renewed Peters's contract for another two years.
In 1953 she also starred in the film noir Vicki. The writer Leo Townsend bought the story of the film, a remake of I Wake Up Screaming, as a vehicle for Peters. Townsend said that he gave the role to Peters in December 1952, because she was "one of the greatest sirens he's ever seen."
Next, Peters was assigned in the film Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), which was shot on location in late 1953 in Italy. Peters was unsatisfied with her role and said in a September 1953 interview: "When I heard Dorothy McGuire, Clifton Webb and Maggie McNamara were going to be in the picture, I thought I would finally have the kind of role that suited me. They sounded like smart, sophisticated company. But when I got to Italy and read the script, I discovered I was going to be an earthy kind of girl again. The script had me nearly being killed in a runaway truck." However, the film became a great success and brought Peters again into the limelight.
Other 1954 films co-starring Jean Peters were the westerns Apache and Broken Lance. Although Broken Lance did not attract much attention, she was critically acclaimed for her performance in Apache. One critic praised her for "giving an excellent account for herself", declaring she was "on her way to becoming one of the finest young actresses around Hollywood today."
In 1954, Peters married Texas oilman Stuart Cramer. At the time they married, they had known each other for only a few weeks, and they separated a few months later.
Peters's next (and ultimately final) film was A Man Called Peter (1955), in which she played Catherine Marshall, the wife of Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian minister and Chaplain of the United States Senate. After the release of A Man Called Peter, Peters refused several roles, for which she was placed on suspension by the studio.
Deciding she had had enough, Peters left Fox to focus on her private life.
In 1957, after her divorce from Cramer, Peters married Howard Hughes. Following her marriage, she retired from acting. Soon after that, he retreated from public view and, reportedly, started becoming an eccentric recluse. The couple had met in the 1940s, before Peters became a film actress. During their highly publicized romance in 1947 there was talk of marriage, but Peters said that she could not combine it with her career. The columnist Jack Anderson claimed that Peters was "the only woman [Hughes] ever loved." He reportedly had his security officers follow her everywhere even when they were not in a relationship. The actor Max Showalter confirmed this, after becoming a close friend of Peters during shooting of Niagara (1953).
In 1957, the producer Jerry Wald tried to persuade her not to leave Hollywood but had no luck. She was supposedly discouraged from continuing as an actress by Hughes, and reported in late 1957 that she was planning on becoming a producer.
In March 1959, it was announced that Peters was to return to the screen for a supporting role in The Best of Everything. But, she did not appear in that film; and, despite her earlier announcement, never produced a film.
During her marriage, which lasted from 1957 to 1971, Jean Peters not only retired from acting, but social events in Hollywood as well. According to a 1969 article, she went through life unrecognized, despite being protected by Hughes's security officers all day. Living in anonymity was easy, according to Peters, because she "didn't act like an actress." It was later reported that during the marriage, Peters was frequently involved in activities such as charitable work, arts and crafts, and university studies including psychology and anthropology at UCLA.
In 1970, rumors arose of Jean Peters making a comeback to acting when the press reported that she was considering three film offers and a weekly TV series for the 1970–1971 season. She chose the television movie Winesburg, Ohio (1973). Afterwards, she said, "I am not pleased with the show or my performance in it. I found it rather dull." At the beginning, she had expressed enthusiasm for the project, saying: "I'm very fond of this script. It's the right age for me. I won't have to pretend I'm a glamour girl." Her co-star William Windom praised her, saying she was "warm, friendly and charming on the set."
In 1971, Peters and Hughes divorced. She agreed to a lifetime alimony payment of $70,000 ($470,000 today) annually, adjusted for inflation, and she waived all claims to Hughes's estate, then worth several billion dollars. In the media, she refused to speak about the marriage, claiming she preferred to focus on the present and future. She said that she hoped to avoid being known as 'Mrs. Howard Hughes' for the rest of her life, although that would be difficult. "I'm a realist. I know what the score is, and I know who the superstar is."
Later in 1971, Peters married Stan Hough, an executive with 20th Century Fox. They were married until Hough's death in 1990.
In 1976, Peters had a supporting role in the TV miniseries The Moneychangers. When asked why she took the role, she said: "I'll be darned if I know. A moment of madness, I think. I ran into my old friend Ross Hunter, who was producing The Moneychangers for NBC-TV, and he asked me if I wanted to be in it. It seemed like fun. It's a nice part – not too big – and I greatly admire Christopher Plummer, whom I play opposite."
Peters appeared in the 1981 television film Peter and Paul, produced by her then-husband, Stan Hough. She guest-starred in Murder, She Wrote in 1988, which was her final acting performance.
From the beginning of her career, Peters openly admitted she did not like fame due to the crowds. Co-actors at Fox recalled that she was very serious about her career.
Peters was close friends with Marilyn Monroe, who also worked for Fox. Other actors she befriended during her career were Joseph Cotten, David Niven, Ray Milland, Marie McDonald, and especially Jeanne Crain. Jeanne Crain said Peters was "anything but a party girl". Despite her clashes with the studio, Peters was well-liked by other contract players.
One biographer recalled: "In all the research and planning that went into this book, no one ever had an unkind word to say of Miss Peters, and that is unusual."
Jean Peters died of leukemia on October 13, 2000, in Carlsbad, California, two days before her 74th birthday. She was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA (8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a child prodigy who, aged eleven, became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his family home in London, at 83 Gower Street (now number 7). Millais became the most famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50) generating considerable controversy, and he produced a picture that could serve as the embodiment of the historical and naturalist focus of the group, Ophelia, in 1851–52.
By the mid-1850s, Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style to develop a new form of realism in his art. His later works were enormously successful, making Millais one of the wealthiest artists of his day, but some former admirers including William Morris saw this as a sell-out (Millais notoriously allowed one of his paintings to be used for a sentimental soap advertisement). While these and early 20th-century critics, reading art through the lens of Modernism, viewed much of his later production as wanting, this perspective has changed in recent decades, as his later works have come to be seen in the context of wider changes and advanced tendencies in the broader late nineteenth-century art world, and can now be seen as predictive of the art world of the present.
Millais's personal life has also played a significant role in his reputation. His wife Effie was formerly married to the critic John Ruskin, who had supported Millais's early work. The annulment of the Ruskin marriage and Effie's subsequent marriage to Millais have sometimes been linked to his change of style, but she became a powerful promoter of his work and they worked in concert to secure commissions and expand their social and intellectual circles.
Millais was born in Southampton, England, in 1829, of a prominent Jersey-based family. His parents were John William Millais and Emily Mary Millais (née Evermy). Most of his early childhood was spent in Jersey, to which he retained a strong devotion throughout his life. The family moved to Dinan in Brittany for a few years in his childhood.
His mother's "forceful personality" was the most powerful influence on his early life. She had a keen interest in art and music, and encouraged her son's artistic bent, promoting the relocating of the family to London to help develop contacts at the Royal Academy of Art. He later said "I owe everything to my mother."
His artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy Schools at the still unprecedented age of eleven. While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (known as the "PRB") in September 1847 in his family home on Gower Street, off Bedford Square.
Millais's Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50) was highly controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop. Later works were also controversial, though less so. Millais achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1851–52), which depicts a young couple about to be separated because of religious conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works. All these early works were painted with great attention to detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
In paintings such as Ophelia (1851–52) Millais created dense and elaborate pictorial surfaces based on the integration of naturalistic elements. This approach has been described as a kind of "pictorial eco-system."
Mariana is a painting that Millais painted in 1850–51 based on the play Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare and the poem of the same name by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from 1830. In the play, the young Mariana was to be married, but was rejected by her betrothed when her dowry was lost in a shipwreck.
This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin, who had defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics.
Millais was elected as an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1853, and was soon elected as a full member of the Academy, in which he was a prominent and active participant.
Millais's friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin's wife Effie. Soon after they met, she modelled for his painting The Order of Release. As Millais painted Effie, they fell in love.
Despite having been married to Ruskin for several years, Effie was still a virgin. Her parents realised something was wrong and she filed for an annulment.
In 1855, after her marriage to Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married. He and Effie eventually had eight children from1856 to 1868. Their youngest son, John Guille Millais, became a naturalist, wildlife artist, and Millais's posthumous biographer. Their daughter Alice (1862–1936), later Alice Stuart-Worsley after she married Charles Stuart-Worsley, was a close friend and muse of the composer Edward Elgar, and is thought to have been an inspiration for themes in his Violin Concerto.
Effie's younger sister Sophie Gray sat for several pictures by Millais, prompting some speculation about the nature of their apparently fond relationship.
After his marriage, Millais began to paint in a broader style, which was condemned by Ruskin as "a catastrophe." It has been argued that this change of style resulted from Millais's need to increase his output to support his growing family. Unsympathetic critics such as William Morris accused him of "selling out" to achieve popularity and wealth. His admirers, in contrast, pointed to the artist's connections with Whistler and Albert Moore, and influence on John Singer Sargent. Millais himself argued that as he grew more confident as an artist, he could paint with greater boldness.
In his article "Thoughts on our art of Today" (1888) he recommended Velázquez and Rembrandt as models for artists to follow. Paintings such as The Eve of St. Agnes and The Somnambulist clearly show an ongoing dialogue between the artist and Whistler, whose work Millais strongly supported.
Other paintings of the late 1850s and 1860s can be interpreted as anticipating aspects of the Aesthetic Movement. Many deploy broad blocks of harmoniously arranged colour and are symbolic rather than narratival.
Later works, from the 1870s onwards demonstrate Millais's reverence for Old Masters such as Joshua Reynolds and Velázquez. Many of these paintings were of an historical theme. Notable among these are The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower (1878) depicting the Princes in the Tower, The Northwest Passage (1874) and the Boyhood of Raleigh (1871). Such paintings indicate Millais's interest in subjects connected to Britain's history and expanding empire.
In 1870 Millais returned to full landscape pictures, and over the next twenty years painted a number of scenes of Perthshire where he was annually found hunting and fishing from August until late into the autumn each year. Most of these landscapes are autumnal or early winter in season and show bleak, dank, water-fringed bog or moor, loch, and riverside. The first of these, Chill October (1870) (Collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber) was the first of the large-scale Scottish landscapes Millais painted periodically throughout his later career.
Between 1881 and 1882, Millais was elected and acted as the president of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.
In July 1885, Queen Victoria created him a baronet, of Palace Gate, in the parish of St Mary Abbot, Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, and of Saint Ouen, in the Island of Jersey, making him the first artist to be honoured with a hereditary title.
Millais achieved great popularity with his paintings of children, notably Bubbles (1886) – famous, or perhaps notorious, for being used in the advertising of Pears soap – and Cherry Ripe.
After the death of Lord Leighton in 1896, Millais was elected President of the Royal Academy.
His last project (1896) was to be a painting entitled "The Last Trek." Based on his illustration for his son's book, it depicted a hunter lying dead in the veldt, his body contemplated by two onlookers.
Millais died later in the same year from throat cancer. He was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral.
When Millais died in 1896, the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) chaired a memorial committee which commissioned a statue of the artist. The statue, by Thomas Brock, was installed at the front of the National Gallery of British Art (now Tate Britain) in the garden on the east side in 1905.
In 2007 the artist was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain, London visited by 151,000 people. The exhibition then traveled to the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, followed by venues in Fukuoka and Tokyo, Japan, and seen by over 660,000 visitors in total.
Juan Diego Flórez (born Juan Diego Flórez Salom, 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 Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Sun of Peru.
Juan Diego Flórez Salom (Lima, 13 de enero de 1973) es un tenor ligero peruano, mayormente reconocido por sus interpretaciones en óperas belcantistas. Es considerado como uno de los mejores tenores del panorama actual.
Juan Diego Flórez was born in Lima, Peru in 1973, the son of María Teresa Salom and Rubén Flórez, 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 huaynos 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. 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, Gioachino Rossini and the bel canto operas of Vicenzo Bellini and Gaetano 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. Palacio subsequently became Flórez's teacher, mentor and manager and has had a profound influence on his career.
Juan Diego 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, Bel Canto Spectacular and 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. He also sang the UEFA Champions League Final Anthem in Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010.
Moving into more lyric roles, he made his debut in Massenet's Werther in Bologna in December 2016, returning to the role in Zurich in April 2017. The Diapason magazine critic described Flórez performance as a triumph, demonstrating his exemplary discipline in accent and phrasing, excellent shading and with the natural allure of a poet.
Flórez has been recognized by his native country with several awards and distinctions. In May 2004, he received the Order of merit, 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 Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Sun of Peru, from President Alan García. He has been an Austrian Kammersänger 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).
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's head and chest registers are perfectly integrated, with no audible break in the passaggio. The ornaments of bel canto, including the trill, are well executed, and stylistic errors such as intrusive aspirates generally avoided. The singer's mastery of coloratura, typified in his Idreno (Semiramide) and Corradino (Matilde di Shabran), has been noted by multiple critics.
Flórez married German-born Australian Julia Trappe in a private civil ceremony on April 23, 2007 in Vienna, Austria. 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 in April 2011. A daughter, Lucia Stella, was born in the family home in Pesaro, Italy, in January 2014.
Juan Diego Flórez es hijo del cantante y guitarrista de música criolla peruana Rubén Flórez Pinedo, acompañante de la célebre cantautora Chabuca Granda, y María Teresa Salom, hermana de Carlos Salom, integrante de una de las bandas de música experimental más reconocidas del Perú en los años 80, Laghonia, así como de la famosa banda de rock peruano We All Together.
Inicialmente persiguió una carrera de cantante de música popular; cantaba covers The Beatles y Led Zeppelin y, según sus propias declaraciones en una reciente entrevista en el diario Ojo (de Lima), podía interpretar desde huaynos hasta canciones de Elvis Presley, a manera de reemplazo cuando el cantante del pub administrado por su madre se encontraba enfermo.
Estudió en el Colegio Santa Margarita en Monterrico, en la ciudad de Lima. Estando en el cuarto año de educación secundaria conoció al profesor de música Genaro Chumpitazi Guerrero, quien le dio sus primeras clases de impostación vocal y lo hizo cantar como solista del colegio en concursos escolares y en presentaciones de zarzuelas con sus compañeros de promoción, y lo hizo ingresar al Conservatorio Nacional de Música (Perú) a inicios del año 1990. Su voz casi educada para el canto lírico surgió en el curso de sus estudios con el maestro Andrés Santa María. Durante este tiempo, fue miembro del Coro Nacional del Perú y cantó como solista la Misa de la Coronación, de Mozart, y la Petite Messe Solennelle, de Gioachino Rossini.
Ingresó al Instituto Curtis de Filadelfia, EE. UU.,donde estudió entre 1993 y 1996, y comenzó a cantar en producciones de ópera estudiantiles en el repertorio por el cual es conocido hoy, Gioachino Rossini y óperas del bel canto de Vincenzo Bellini y Gaetano Donizetti. En 1994, el tenor también peruano Ernesto Palacio, lo invitó a Italia, a participar en una grabación de la ópera de Vicente Martín y Soler, Il tutore burlato, y se hizo subsecuentemente maestro y mentor de Flórez.
La primera gran sensación y debut profesional de Flórez llegó con el Rossini Festival de Pésaro en 1996. Con 23 años, inicialmente iba a participar en un rol menor en Ricciardo e Zoraide y en el coro de otras, pero dejó las filas del coro para tomar el reemplazo del papel del tenor principal de Corradino en Matilde de Shabran, pues el tenor principal, Bruce Ford, estaba enfermo. Su presentación causó sensación y luego otra vez más en similares circunstancias reemplazando a Giuseppe Sabbatini. Ese mismo año hizo su debut en la Teatro de La Scala de Milán como el cavaliere danese en Armide, de Christoph Willibald Gluck. Luego siguió su debut en el Royal Opera House, Covent Garden en 1997, donde cantó el rol del conde Potoski en una versión de concierto (y la primera moderna) de Elisabetta, de Donizetti. Siguieron su debut en la Ópera Estatal de Viena en 2000 como Rinuccio en Gianni Schicchi, y en la Ópera del Metropolitan en 2002 como el conde de Almaviva en El Barbero de Sevilla.
Ha recibido el Premio Abbiati 2000 (dado por los críticos italianos al mejor cantante del año), el Rossini d'oro, el Bellini d'oro, el Premio Aureliano Pertile, el Premio Tamagno y el Premio L'Opera award (Migliore Tenore) por su actuación del 2001 de La Sonnambula en La Scala.
Firmó por Decca en 2001 y desde entonces ha lanzado cuatro CD de recitales solistas en el sello Decca: Rossini arias, que ganó el Cannes Classical Award de 2003; Una Furtiva Lágrima, ganó el Cannes Classical Award de 2004; Great Tenor Arias (2005) y Sentimiento Latino (2006), un recital con temas clásicos de la música popular latinoamericana. Los CD han encontrado críticas positivas que ensalzan su técnica. El más común agasajo acerca de su canto es su caracterización individual total de cada rol que toma. Admira a Alfredo Kraus.
En octubre de 2003 Luciano Pavarotti declaró que el peruano Juan Diego Flórez podría ser su sucesor como cantante de ópera. Si bien Pavarotti le mencionó como su sucesor, tanto la crítica como el mismo Flórez han declarado que, mientras Pavarotti fue un tenor lírico-ligero, Flórez es ligero, por lo que sus repertorios difieren.
En julio de 2005 participó en los megaconciertos de Live 8 en Berlín, siendo el único peruano en participar en dicho megaevento.
El 20 de febrero de 2007 rompió la tradición impuesta por Toscanini en la Scala de Milán y ofreció un bis en el estreno de La hija del regimiento, de Gaetano Donizetti, cuando en el papel de Tonio le tocó atacar el aria “Ah mes amis”, con sus célebres nueve “do” sobreagudos (do de pecho). En cuanto Flórez terminó de cantarla, los espectadores se pusieron de pie y aplaudieron durante más de cinco minutos. El último bis de un cantante en la Scala ocurrió en 1933, cuando el bajo ruso Fiódor Chaliapin tuvo que repetir "La calumnia" de El barbero de Sevilla, de Rossini.
Flórez tiene una voz de tenor lírico ligero que, aunque no de gran amplitud, es, no obstante, audible incluso en los escenarios de mayor dimensión, debido al predominio de las altas frecuencias en su estructura armónica. Su rango vocal es de dos octavas, incluyendo el Mi bemol sobreagudo, registrado en 2009 tanto en actuación en directo (Zelmira) como en estudio, en el aria All udir de padre afflito, de Bellini, en el CD titulado Arias for Rubini. La parte más alta de su registro es particularmente poderosa y brillante, casi sin sensación de esfuerzo, mientras que las notas más bajas son comparativamente más pobres.
Los registros de cabeza y pecho se integran perfectamente sin interrupción perceptible en el passaggio. Su control de la respiración es impecable, lo que le permite prolongar las frases manteniéndolas con aparente facilidad. Ejecuta bien las florituras del bel canto, incluyendo el trino, mientras que generalmente evita los errores estilísticos como las aspiraciones intrusivas.
Tal vez su rasgo técnico más distintivo es el dominio de la coloratura, que resulta especialmente patente en sus Idreno (Semiramide) y Corradino (Matilde di Shabran).
El 8 de abril de 2008, el tenor español Plácido Domingo declaró su admiración por Juan Diego Flórez, del que dijo en Madrid: «Es el más grande tenor ligero de todos los tiempos, el máximo de su categoría. No me acuerdo de otro que haya cantado así ese repertorio tan difícil que él interpreta»; «cuando Juan Diego te canta con res bemoles y naturales, son verdaderos, no de falsete, verdaderos agudos», destacó el tenor español.