Singing is not easy. Even here in Milan, forget that myth that Italians are born singers. Just ask a friend to remind you how that tune goes and you'll be stopping them after a few notes.
That's not what happened when, years ago, during a party on Covent Garden's Crush Bar, I was trying to tell Placido Domingo about an opera I had seen but couldn't remember its title. He started singing, quite loudly, the end of Rinuccio's aria from “Gianni Schicchi”. Every head turned, of course, and I turned extremely red, feeling that I had disturbed the party. But no-one wanted Domingo to stop. In fact he was urged to continue, though he elegantly declined. After more than 60 years of singing (52 professionally) still no-one is asking him to stop. After returning to “Iphigénie en Tauride” at the Metropolitan Opera here's what the critics had to say:
Mr. Domingo, a savvy, intelligent performer, plays Iphigénie's long-lost brother, Oreste. Through canny pacing, charisma and force of will he manages to surmount some shaky sustained tones and a lack of flexibility in faster passages (the man is 70, after all) to create a noble, physically fearless, satisfyingly sung performance. – The New York Times
Domingo's voice sounded a bit husky in the first half of the 2 1/2-hour performance before opening up after intermission. His Oreste, with long hair and blood on his face, called to mind his Samson from decades ago. Some suspension of belief is required to accept an Oreste of this age. But what Domingo lacks in youthful appearance he makes up for with intensity and impassioned acting. His tenor, with a strong middle register and superior coloration, remains a marvel. – ABC News
His voice has lost some of its polish with age, but its emotional and dramatic core remains powerfully intact. His runs in O Dieux qui me poursuivez came out uneven, though that may have something to do with the sets by Thomas Lynch which compartmentalize the stage into unequally resonating boxes. But by the final act, when he recognizes Iphigénie as his sister, it was as if the chains had fallen off his voice, too, revealing a glorious, burnished sound. – The Classical Review
At a time of life when most opera singers can barely re member their glory days, 70-year-old Placido Domingo is still giving performances singers half his age could be proud of. The legendary tenor returned to the Met Saturday night in one of the newest of his more than 100 opera roles, Oreste in Gluck's 1779 “Iphigénie en Tauride.” This relatively short part, written in the baritone range, showed that more than five decades of singing has left but a soft patina on his vocal bronze. – The New York Post
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.