Monday, October 03, 2005


In his prime I would buy tickets to see Placido Domingo and something would always go wrong. There would be an earthquake. His mother would die. Now these weren't reasons you could exactly complain about, but nonetheless, I was not getting to see him sing. Finally I got to hear him in Massenet's Herodiade with Renée Fleming, a not very interesting opera with a ridiculous plot and a not very significant tenor role. I had wished for Les Contes d'Hoffmann.

Until Sunday's Trilogy: Domingo and Friends in 3 Acts at the Washington National Opera. He looked and sang very well. Domingo has always been kind of a baritone with high notes, and as his voice ages this becomes more and more apparent. Amazingly, in his middle sixties he has no trace of a wobble, but there is a certain added gravitas.

Act I was Fedora Act II, with Sylvie Valayre as Fedora. This is the best act for the tenor with the hit aria, "Amor ti vieta," and the narrative of why he killed Fedora's fiance. There is a party. Amanda Squitieri, a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, as Olga was especially nice. Watch for her. I went with my neighbor and she liked this part the best.

Act II was Act IV of Otello. I never got to see Domingo sing the whole opera, but this is the best part anyway. What a treat! Barbara Frittoli is a fabulous Desdemona. She has voice, she has style, she has beauty, she has acting and she lies very quietly hanging off the bed for quite a long time without falling off.

Act III was Act III of The Merry Widow. This scene also has a party, and like the party in Fledermaus, it was used to insert added entertainments. Sylvie Valayre and Barbara Frittoli sang a duet from Cosi fan tutte, for instance. I've never cared for the lustige Witwe and was happy to be spared the whole operetta. Ending with a party was nice. There's a great bit where the soprano compares Parisian men to a fizzy alcoholic drink which I cannot remember the name of. Domingo sang his aria in German while everything else was in English.

It was a pleasing froth with a glorious, dramatic center.

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