To hear the plaudits that greeted Plácido Domingo at Covent Garden and then at the Proms recently, one would think that Simon Boccanegra was to be his last great hurrah. Certainly his bold foray into baritone repertoire was seen by many as a crowning moment in a long career. Yet his publicist confirms that he will now follow it with an even more difficult baritone role – Verdi’s Rigoletto.
The tenor (should we now call him a barinor? A tenoritone?) will, at 69, take on one of the most exhausting and complex roles in the repertoire – one that even many baritones, notably Sir Geraint Evans in an ill-fated Royal Opera bow, have failed to score with. Domingo will sing the vengeful court jester on television for Italian broadcaster RAI, in a live production played on location around Mantua. It is, in many ways, a follow-up to the 1992 Tosca in which he starred, and which was itself performed at dramatically accurate times and locations in Rome (the dangers of such enterprises were on that occasion rather reinforced when Domingo slipped and fell on a ramp mid-sing, before manfully picking himself up and carrying on).
The Rigoletto will take place on September 4 and 5. Co-starring with Domingo will be Vittorio Grigolo as the Duke (whose brighter tenor, sensibly, will contrast well with his Rigoletto’s deeper tones). Olga Peretyatko plays Gilda, Zubin Mehta (another veteran of that Tosca) will conduct and Marco Bellocchio will direct.
Neither has Domingo, as was widely believed, made his final appearance at Covent Garden. His publicist confirms that he will return to celebrate his 40th anniversary in opera on October 27. In addition, the Royal Opera House’s chief executive Tony Hall has said that he will return the season after that and beyond. Repertoire has yet to be announced. Verdi’s Iago, anyone? Macbeth?