Placido Domingo ó Great Scenes

Moreover, the real Domingo-enthusiast will not be very happy with
the strange selections. The DVD starts with a minute from a Vienna
Fledermaus in which Frosch and the conducting tenor exchange a few
jokes and the conductor sings a few phrases from ‘Celeste Aida’
to correct the jailer who had been humming the melody. Then comes the first
selection from Ernani and it takes a few seconds before it dawns on
you that the sleeve note is correct. Indeed you get the cabaletta of the
first act aria ‘MercË, diletti amici’ without the aria proper.
Still, the cabaletta itself gets the two verses, no high note (Muti
conducting and Domingo probably very much in agreement) and is a rounded
piece. But in ‘La lÈgende de Kleinzack’ the producers of this DVD
go completely nuts. This is after all a classic A-B-A aria. After the A
section and the middle part of the aria, everybody will expect the reprise of
the main melody and the end of the aria. No way, the aria is simply cut off
after two-thirds of the music. Therefore, one is not too surprised that the
big final duet of Andrea ChÈnier, too, is given less than half its
length and is cut from the moment the music really gets into a higher gear
with ‘La nostra amor’. One wonders who made such decisions, all
the more as 57 minutes are short value for a DVD.

One cannot help but wondering if the hand of Mr. Domingo is behind it all.
In 1986 he produced a world premiËre when he had the TV broadcast of La
delayed so that some “elder” high notes could be
electronically inserted in places where he had cracked abominably. He had
forgotten the radio broadcast that went directly into the air and his real
‘cielo e mar’ is still to be found on party tapes. Of course a
small scandal erupted as Eva Marton was livid with fury. She, too, had missed
a few notes and they were not edited and she loudly complained to the

The performances on this DVD are typical of Domingo in his middle period.
The first period goes from 1966 (after a six year prologue) and ends in 1978
when the top was already shortening and he was barely able to sing a good
high B. The second one goes till 1990 when he was still a fully committed
tenor though avoiding high B roles and discreetly transposing (like he does
with a semitone in ‘Ch’ella mi creda’ on this DVD). The
third one up to today is well known for the no longer discreet transpositions
that often embarrass his co-singers, as they have to adapt themselves to his
weaknesses. That’s when he started talking about some tenors being in
reality ‘baritenors’ like he did before the unveiling of the new
Met Samson et Dalila production nine years ago, though in the 1974
book ‘The Tenors’ he boasted he would soon sing the C without any
problem like he already did when practising. Typical for his whole career,
however, are the brilliant and extremely beautiful lower and middle
registers, which even after a strenuous activity of 45 years are still very
much to be enjoyed. Typical, too, are the somewhat generalized
interpretations he brings forth. It is always fine to hear them but one
cannot say he has really probed the depth of his roles. He rarely
disappoints; but he rarely does something unforgettable. Many of his
predecessors and even one of his contemporaries (yes, that one) often
succeeded in giving us ‘the magic phrase’; one or another
utterance that you keep in your mind when listening to another singer.
Bergonzi, Corelli, Di Stefano, even Del Monaco succeeded in doing this.
Domingo doesn’t, at least not in opera though in some of his zarzuela
recordings (the stuff he knew by heart long before he could read) everything
comes together and he can be just wonderful (listen to his El ultimo

The 1982 Ernani on this DVD is not his best effort. The sound is
sometimes nasal and comes out squeezed. Compare this with the opening of the
La Scala season in 1969 and you immediately note the loss in richness. One
year later, he is in better voice in Manon Lescaut touchingly acting
young RenÈ des Grieux. The sound of the middle voice once again is golden
though by that time the tessitura of the role lies already too high. He and
Te Kanawa sing very flat in the climax of their final duet. As Dick Johnson
he is very good indeed and the chopped up delivery that belongs to ‘Una
parola sola’ suits his voice fine. In 1985 one hears that middle age as
a singer has come. ‘Si fui soldato’ goes as follows
‘Va’ breath ‘la mia nave’ or ‘Ma lasciami
breath l’onor’. And in the small part of the final duet we are
allowed to hear he radically cuts short the note values. All productions on
this DVD are fully traditional and sound and picture quality are

Jan Neckers

image_description=Placido Domingo ñ Great Scenes
product_title=Placido Domingo ñ Great Scenes
product_by=Placido Domingo with Kiri Te Kanawa, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Carol Neblett, Anna Tomowa-Sintow
product_id=Kultur D 4048 [DVD]