Plácido Domingo - Opera Arias
To mark Domingo’s 40th anniversary at the Vienna State Opera, Orfeo has issued a well filled, three-CD set of live recordings from the opera house. As might be predicted, Domingo has amazing virtuosity and endurance even in the most taxing roles. The discs also give us a chance to reacquaint ourselves with some of his more distinguished colleagues.
Disc 1 is devoted to Verdi and Puccini, and starts with the prelude to Act 1 of La traviata with Domingo as conductor. That is followed by magnificent recollections of his Don Carlos in 1967 and then again in 1992. The Karajan classic Trovatore is represented by Manrico’s aria and his duet with Azucena taken from a famous performance in 1978. We then have, consecutively, the Otello Act 1 duet with Desdemona from 1982 and the Act 3 duet with a quite wonderful Barbara Frittoli as his Desdemona and Daniel Oren as conductor. The rest of this disc is concerned with verismo. Domingo is predictably wonderful as Rodolfo, Dick Johnson and Cavaradossi. In the latter role he is persuaded to repeat his last act aria. His Chénier and Canio (Pagliacci) are notably vital assumptions.
Disc 2 is devoted primarily to the French repertory. Those of us who saw him often as Hoffmann and Don José will be glad to be reminded of these performances. The final duet of Carmen with Agnes Baltsa has an enormous frisson. Finally on this disc there is a briefish extract from The Queen of Spades, with Rita Gorr at about 80 still showing voice as the old countess.
The last CD is all Wagner. Fine and strong as much of his singing is here as Lohengrin, Siegmund and Parsifal, I feel no happier than in the past with his peculiar German. The best item is Lohengrin’s farewell, delivered with deep feeling. But, taken all in all, his is an amazing achievement. We shall not see or hear his like again in many a moon. Throughout the recorded sound is consistently true so that we feel carried back to the State Opera.