(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Ashutosh Khandekar - Editor
From the current issue of Opera Now
Opera Now is honoured to welcome one of opera’s iconic figures, Plácido Domingo, as our guest editor in this special issue.
I can hardly remember a time when Domingo wasn’t at the very top of his game in the world of opera. He came to prominence in what seemed like a flash in the 1960s and from then on his trajectory was upward all the way. His energy levels at 74 are still astonishing. If he’s not actually appearing on a major world stage, he’s bound to be at 30,000 feet hurtling across continents to his next spot of conducting or yet another role debut.
The media tends to describe celebrities in terms of the clothes they wear or the parties they frequent. When it comes to Domingo, he is expressed through a welter of mind-boggling statistics: 146 roles, 3,700 performances, 100 complete recordings of opera, 101 curtain calls in a single night… the list goes on. For any performer, resilience(as Michael White discovers in this month’s ‘Squillo’ column) is a valuable commodity and Domingo has it in droves. If someone could measure it, you could add it to the list of statistics.
With all this feverish number-crunching going on, it’s easy to forget that what really makes Domingo the great artist that he is: the unequalled magnificence of his singing voice. It is a voice sui generis – like no other, yet difficult to define because it is so natural, so free of quirks and affectations. There is something quintessentially Spanish about its warm, brooding undertow that breaks out into glorious sunshine at the top. One Irish critic rather incongruously compared it to a pint of Guinness. Perhaps he has a point: rich, dark and thick in body with a satisfying creamy froth that lasts through to the final sip.
As we were putting this issue of Opera Now to press, Domingo was grappling with a schedule that should have seen him conducting in Covent Garden, rehearsing in Vienna and singing in a production debut in Madrid. Much of this had to be set aside as he stayed at the bedside of his sister Maria in the final stages of her terminal illness. I’m very grateful to Plácido that, through a time of great sadness and grief, he has remained committed to his guest editorship of this magazine and has given freely of his precious time and prestigious energy. Thank you, too, to his son Álvaro Domingo for his help and support throughout.
Domingo has been such an integral part of the opera scene for so long, there’s a danger that we take him for granted. I hope this issue of Opera Now will encourage readers to take a fresh look at an extraordinary artist and his bold, far-reaching legacy.
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