Happy birthday, Placido. We're trashing your legacy.

Happy birthday, Placido. We're trashing your legacy.


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2011

Washington could not have got its timing worse.

Hours before the great tenor began celebrating what is commonly reckoned to be his 70th birthday, the Kennedy Center’s Michael Kaiser announced that he is taking over the Washington National Opera that Domingo has headed for the past decade.
Kaiser, who has experience of running the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, would never be so impolite as to shaft a singer for whom he has great respect and affection. But the content of his message – that the opera is $12 million in the red and leaderless in every way – left no doubt in anyone’s mind that Domingo’s absentee management has been a complete disaster.
The Kaiser’s move is not surprising; I predicted it in an interview months ago. The timing, however, is unfortunate, to say the least. The company must have been coming down in flames for Kennedy to take it over on the eve of PD’s birthday. 
Now I don’t want to spoil the party, but the question everyone’s asking is what happens to Los Angeles? If Placido was an admitted disaster in Washington, what’s to be done about the mighty deficit he has built up on the West Coast, with precious little to show for it in artistic substance? Domingo’s record as a great singer is secure. But his ambition to be the boss of opera houses is falling steadily to pieces.


  • Michael Schaffer says:

    The article link to here says:
    “Kaiser said he will hire an artistic leader to replace the outgoing general director, Placido Domingo, who announced in September that he would not renew his contract when it expires at the end of this season.”
    And indeed:
    The timing of the announcement obviously didn’t have anything to do with Domingo’s departure, nor is it the cause for it.

  • Stephanie Brooke says:

    Of course Washington Opera has raised much more money from private sponsors because of Domingo’s presence than it would otherwise have done.On several occasions he has put his hand in his own pocket – to the extent of £2 million in the case of LA Opera being left without because of the demise of Alberto Vilar.

  • Carlo says:

    Another example of taxpayers across the country paying for Washington cultural programs. When the Baltimore Opera couldn’t pay is bills, it went into bankruptcy and eventually folded.