Obsessiveness decreases with age

Plácido Domingo - ambivalent birthday star

The story of Plácido Domingo is undoubtedly that of a person who is insatiable. The fact that the artist, who celebrates his 80th birthday on Thursday, is still active can be taken as evidence of his obsessiveness. Although Domingo fell ill with Corona months ago and was in the hospital, he will be in a ghost performance on Friday, as is his way, at the State Opera in Nabucco be heard.

At Domingo, not being able to stop is also related to not having to stop. You don't like to leave a star who fills the house unengaged. And Domingo's change from tenor to baritone roles once opened up new, respectable career extension opportunities: Father Germont in La Traviata and Simon Boccanegra - they were definitely evidence of a mature skill.

Intense tone

It's also true: not every great singer's qualities shine through even when the golden years are over. With Domingo it does. His timbre, which is so plushy and immediately recognizable from the middle register, paired with the intensity that he puts into individual tones: These are quality features that shine through even in his late phase.

There was, among other things. Open-air concerts with Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazón, where even the young stars struggled to keep up with the energy of the old man with the dark-sweet sound.

Furious Otello

It was precisely this sound that was partly responsible for making Domingo one of the tenors of the century. Without that certain something (in the Italian and French core repertoire) you won't become a star singer in opera. The Domingo phenomenon is also one of the tenoral versatility. He was not only Tosca's heart painter Cavaradossi, a frenzied Otello or Carmen's desperate murderer Don José, for example once at the Vienna State Opera under the baton of "Diva" Carlos Kleiber.

Domingo carefully expanded his repertoire to include the German subject and ended up with Richard Wagner. He was Parsifal, Lohengrin like Siegmund. He amazed everyone at how cultivated he was to implement these games. At the height of his potential, Domingo was a phenomenon of repertoire flexibility that also succeeded in the popular subject.

The three tenors

With tenor colleagues Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras, he formed the classic trade mark The Three Tenors, which increased its reach into pop dimensions. The insatiability and versatility of this musician also included other "roles". Domingo enjoys conducting, and has also directed the Los Angeles Opera and the Washington National Opera. He also supports young singers with his Operalia competition. It was sometimes thought that it existed several times; puzzling how he brought all of this under one artist's hat. It probably protects the art of delegation from the grosser ...

Nothing can be handed in on stage, however. And over the years there were more evenings in which the audience's admiration was mixed with a touch of pity. In 2014, at the Salzburg Festival, Domingo sang himself alongside an outstanding Anna Netrebko as Count Luna in Verdis Il trovatore into an exhausting state of excessive demand. He survived the evening with vocal crisis management and was reasonably excused for further performances.

MeToo allegations

The longer the son of a couple of Zarzuela singers goes on, who, according to rumors, could be a bit older than 80, the harder it will be to step out of the shadows of what he once was. In other areas too, he has to fight for his good reputation.

In the course of the MeToo movement, numerous allegations of sexual harassment fell on him. First Domingo denied, then apologized. Eventually he ended his career at the Met and resigned elsewhere as opera director.

An investigation commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera concluded that certain allegations of "inappropriate behavior" were credible. Nothing was pending in court, a questionable image remained. Repairing this will probably give wings to the restlessness of the birthday senior. (Ljubiša Tošić, January 21, 2021)