Plácido Domingo – The Versailles Gala
Berlioz, Cilea, Giordano, Lehár, Massenet, Puccini, Thomas, Torroba & Verdi (DVD)
With Jennifer Rowley; Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal/Laurent Campellone
Château de Versailles CVS091 87 mins
At 80 there’s a leonine look to Domingo nowadays with his head of luxuriant white hair and full beard. Unsteady on his feet as he walks on stage at the Versailles theatre he yet retains that dignity and presence that made him the lion king amongst his generation of tenors.
A baritone now, the voice is not what it was; yet what the voice has lost in range is amply made up for by an artistry that has been honed for six decades. Even in his recital white tie and tails Domingo is a theatre animal. In the Act II duet with Violetta from La traviata his Germont Pere acts out every ounce of feeling as a blinkered old man discovers that a woman he thought a tart has a noble heart. And close your eyes when he sings ‘Amor, vida de mi vida’ from Torroba’s 1941 zarzuela and you hear this great artist in his glory days.
The American soprano Jennifer Rowley is rarely Domingo’s equal. But in any case its Domingo that the smart audience at Versailles have come to hear, not Rowley or Laurent Campellone and his musicians, and it’s Domingo they reward with a standing ovation.