Having achieved so much as a tenor he has recently added the title baritone roles of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Rigoletto to his list of achievements. During the 2009-10 season, he appeared as Boccanegra at the Berlin Staatsoper, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, and Madrid’s Teatro Real, and in September 2010 he took the role of Rigoletto in a live telecast from Mantua, Italy, the city in which the opera’s story takes place.
In 1990, Domingo and his colleagues José Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti formed the Three Tenors, which performed with enormous success all over the world. Domingo has made over 100 recordings of complete operas, compilations of arias and duets and crossover discs.
Born in Madrid in 1941, Plácido Domingo was taken to Mexico at the age of eight where he attended Mexico City’s Conservatory of Music, studying piano and conducting. Discovering that he had vocal talents, he later took singing lessons, making his debut, at the age of eighteen, in a small role at Mexico’s National Opera. He spent three seasons with the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, where he sang 280 performances of twelve different roles, before launching his major international career in 1965.
1965, Domingo made his New York debut as Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly at the New York City Opera. His official debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York occurred on 28 September 1968 when he substituted for Franco Corelli, in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur singing with Renata Tebaldi. His Vienna State Opera debut came in 1967, his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1968, both La Scala and San Francisco Opera in 1969, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1970 and at Covent Garden in 1971.
In 2011, Domingo celebrated not only his 70th birthday but also his 50th anniversary as a singer of leading roles and the 40th anniversary of his Covent Garden debut. His energy and enthusiasm remain undimmed.
Plácido Domingo has now recorded an album of Verdi’s baritone arias just released by Sony Classical www.sonymasterworks.com . This new recording entitled Verdi includes arias from Macbeth, Rigoletto, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Traviata, Simon Boccanegra, Ernani, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo and La Forza del Destino.
Domingo sees Verdi’s baritone parts as a challenge for any singer, not only in terms of mastering the music saying, ‘Verdi experienced so much pain, so many blows of fate – all of which he put into his operas, and especially into the baritone parts. Singing this, you feel as if you are living through it all yourself. Suffering in public on the stage. Not always an easy process.’
Straightaway in the aria Perfidi! All’anglo contro me v’unite! from Macbeth one is hit by the remarkable richness of Plácido Domingo’s voice, so finely controlled. He seems to have grown naturally into the baritone range.
In Rigoletto Domingo’s artistry continually shows through as in Pari siamo! Io la lingua where he shows so many mixed emotions and, indeed, vocal power. What a fine Rigoletto he makes, with a terrific Si, la mia figlia!
In Renato’s aria Alzati! Là tuo figlio (Un ballo in maschera) he characterises the part so well, carefully balanced between anger and pathos. There is a lovely performance of Di Provenza il mar, il suol from La Traviata with more fine control.
Simon Boccanegra is a role that Domingo has taken to his heart and this shows so much in Abbasso le Spade where he is joined by Angel Joy Blue (soprano), Aquiles Machado (tenor), Fernando Piqueras (baritone), Bonifaci Carrilo (bass) and Gianluca Buratto (bass) who reach some fine climaxes, with Domingo providing all the richness, power and character, showing his fine artistry. What a superb Boccanegra he makes, with terrific drama and subtlety in Ecco la spada and some fine orchestral accompaniment from Pablo Heras-Casado www.pabloherascasado.com and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana.
È questo il loco? (Ernani) shows the range of his voice and the simple opening of Oh, de’ verd’anni miei (Ernani) again demonstrates Domingo’s superb vocal technique with powerful, long held notes - effortless.
From Il trovatore Domingo gives us a fine dialogue with Gianluca Buratto (bass) in Tutto è deserto, with Il balen del suo sorriso, so many little inflections and feelings and a brilliantly done Per me, ora fatale with Domingo in fine voice.
There is a fine Don Carlo from Aquiles Machado (tenor) providing the perfect foil to Domingo’s Rodrigo in Son io, mio Carlo. Per me giunto è il di supremo is beautifully done, rich and flowing and in Che parli tu di morte? Domingo’s vocal agility and power are combined. But it’s the tremendous characterisation and emotional presence that marks out Domingo as so fine.
Finally from La forza del destino there is Morir! Tremenda cosa, beautifully controlled, full of drama, rich and varied in vocal texture, a beautifully nuanced Urna fatale del mio destino and a very fine E s’altra prova rinvenir potessi?...Egli è salvo! Gioia immensa to make a rousing finale to this first rate disc.
This is more than just another disc of arias from Verdi’s operas, including as it does some terrific extracts that set Domingo alongside other fine artists giving a more theatrical feel than usual.
Having heard Plácido Domingo’s Simon Boccanegra from the New York Met in 2010 I approached this disc with great anticipation. Whilst he is in terrific voice revealing textures and timbres that are truly superb, it is his fine artistry, the characterisation of each role that impresses so much. Well recorded, it includes full texts and English translations as well as colour photos of Domingo in various roles.
This is a fine tribute to Verdi 200 from one of the world’s finest artists who shows that he is able to continue to develop his voice.