At last a real baritone: Austrian media on Domingo’s withdrawal

At last a real baritone: Austrian media on Domingo’s withdrawal


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2014

The tenor-turned-baritone has pulled out of Salzburg with a serious and painful illness. What do the media have to say about it?

Great, we’re getting a real baritone. Poor taste, even by near-inimitable Austrian tabloid standards.

domingo netrebko trovatore

Message frrom Placido Domingo:

Thank you so much for all the concern regarding my health and my recent cancellations. I am on my way to NYC for some rest and a medical check up. Then off to LA for a new and exciting new edition of Operalia and rehearsals of La Traviata !

Muchas gracias por la reciente preocupación sobre mi estado de salud y mis cancelaciones. Me dirijo a NYC para descansar un poco y hacerme una revisión médica. ¡Después iré a Los Angeles para una nueva y excitante edición de Operalia y ensayos de La Traviata !



  • sdReader says:

    The problem with Domingo as di Luna in 2014 was never that he is not a “real” baritone. It was that he can no longer sing well. He should not have been cast. Period.

    So in a sense you are right. It is poor taste to dismiss the import of Artur Rucinski as being merely the supply of the right voice type, when in fact this Polish artist brings a much higher level of accuracy and elegance to Verdi’s music — a sad but true commentary on Domingo’s egotistical and selfish behavior.

  • Malcolm James says:

    This is slightly reminiscent of the Dale Clevenger thread a couple of years ago. I have not heard Domingo sing as a baritone, but anno domini is the one battle no-one can win and everyone has to accept eventually that they can no longer do what they once could. Some find that easier to accept than others. The Austrian press maybe have the directness to say the emperor no longer has any clothes.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The review in the Kurrier stresses that at his performance as Luna in the Salzburg premiere Domingo was far from his best, and goes on to praise Rucinski for his performance. I don’t see any bad taste at all.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    I know from personal experience (as an actor) that it is never easier to step in as the understudy. Everyone is comparing you to “the real performer” and wishing you were instead them. They don’t hear your performance – they hear the imagined performance of ‘the maestro’. Yet often the maestros are our friends, and we are sad that illness has brought them low.

    Mr Domingo has shown great professionalism in standing aside, allowing his understudy to at least get an orchestral rehearsal for this viciously difficult role.

    Artur Rucinski is a magnificent singer, and I’m sure he enjoys the support of Mr Domingo in “going on” under such challenging circumstances.

    I doubt any audience (except the snobs who bought their tickets for Domingo’s name only) would be disappointed with fine singing like this?
    Worth every euro of whatever they’ve paid for their tickets!!

    Good luck, Artur!!

    • GEll says:

      Funny. I’ll be the first one to admit I am a music snob but I would never buy a ticket to a Domingo performance. Why? Simply because of his long standing support of dumb and fraudulent acts such as Sissel, Bocelli, Brightman, Church, Jenkins and so many of these popera filth for the masses.

      • Kathleen McCarthy says:

        Oh dear. Oh dear. How sad.

        • GEll says:

          What is sad is that the misrepresentation of opera through these dumbed-down, sham “artists” (and in which Domingo is dead center complicit) has increased neither audiences nor record sales. The intended effect was to be the opposite, of course, but it misfired spectacularly. Cheers.

        • catmando says:

          Well he did say he is a “music snob” and he proved it with that post.

          It was Brightman who sparked my interest in Classical music and opera. I had never had a singer bring me to tears until I heard her sing Nella Fantasia. Now Jackie Evancho brings me to tears.

          Two opera stars elicit that response from me; Elina Garanca and Shirley Verrett(RIP).

    • catmando says:

      How does Rucinski compare to Hvorostovsky? I ask the question as a neophyte about opera.

      • Jon Freeman says:

        As a newcomer to opera, it would probably be wise not to start comparing singers. It took me quite a while, but I am able to appreciate each singer for his or her virtues and not compare. There is nothing to be gained by that and you’ll probably miss out on a lot of good performances.

  • Milka says:

    Mr. Domingo would have shown greater professionalism if he had not undertaken the role at all , he does remind one of the many sad aging actresses with their lined & now ugly faces still trying to recapture the past .
    He is the past but dares not face it .
    People come to see him perhaps
    as a museum piece and watch what
    can be only thought of as a farce certainly if they cared for the music he
    would be unthinkable . Isn’t it the great Anna Russell who observed that singers often had” resonance where their brains ought to be” Let us hope
    his indisposition is mild and he recovers ,also that the doctors come up with some emergency medication that will suppress his desire to sing . Of course there is the conducting………?

    • Michael says:

      Having enjoyed greatly many of Domingo’s early performances, I later got weary of the permanently craggy frown interpreted by fans and critics alike as great “acting”. His top was also much less enthralling and free than we should expect from a great “singer”. When it was obvious his “baritonal” tone was simply not enough for tenor rôles, he switched to baritone roles, where ironically he sounded like a tenor trying to sing baritone parts and one in pain at that.

      Milka’s comments about ageing actresses is harsh but apposite. There is also a parallel with Nureyev, whose drive to dance forever left us with some sad performances in his later years, but luckily they could not tarnish the glory of his astonishing triumphs.

      Pavarotti was accused of having a fawning uncritical entourage and PR machine, but surely Domingo’s team wins this contest hands down. He WAS a great singer. It is sad that there does not seem to be anyone who can have a quiet word with him and persuade him to withdraw gracefully.

      In my 50 years of opera-going I have never seen Foscari, but neither wild horses nor free tickets could bring me to see the Royal Opera’s forthcoming Domingo showcase.

    • Neil McGowan says:

      Mr. Domingo would have shown greater professionalism if he had not undertaken the role at all

      I’ll see if I can find you the email of the Artistic Directors of the Salzburg Festival, so that you can tell them yourself?

  • GEll says:

    Hardly a lack of taste. It is calling a spade a spade. Many of us wish Domingo well as we would any other human being but many of us are truly tired of him. He needs to fold up the tent and enjoy the years of his twilight.

  • Michael says:

    Surely “originaler Bariton” does not mean “real baritone”!!!! The critic makes it clear that he was referring to someone who was originally a baritone in contrast to someone who spent decades as a tenor! Far from showing poor taste, the Kurier’s critic seems to have been very dispassionate, praising Rucinski and reporting the appreciation of both audience and colleagues for His performance without any gratuitous “tabloid” side-swipe at Domingo.

  • mr oakmount says:

    Point 1: I find nothing offensive in the article.
    Point 2: The Kurier is not considered a tabloid. That’s the Krone.
    Point 3: “near-inimitable Austrian tabloid standards” ???
    I am on holiday in the UK. No Austrian tabloid could go so low, even if they tried very hard.
    Point 4: Is it possible that some of the “offensive” stuff in the article was “born in translation”?
    Point 5: I still admire a man who could have made gazillions just singing three roles and then retired to his villa venturing further and further for sheer love and pleasure of music. That includes his “crossover” and collaboration with popular artists.

  • catmando says:

    Jackie’s third PBS Special at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. has just concluded. Now we hope her producers can use it in a CD/DVD Deluxe album like her other two and make the 9/23 deadline for he CD release.

  • Alberto S. says:

    Domingo should retire before his ridiculous attempts at singing as a baritone do a severe damage to a brilliant career. It is difficult to understand what can lead a great singer, a living myth, to pursue a preposterous and artificial continuation of a career that should have come to an end some years ago. Even his all-time fans (the serious ones, those that love opera, not just famous singers) are deserting him.