Domingo takes new part-time job, replacing sacked artistic director

Domingo takes new part-time job, replacing sacked artistic director


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2017

Fort Worth Opera last month fired Darren K. Woods, the artistic director who put the company on the world map over the past 16 years.

Now it has chosen to replace him with an advisory council, chaired by Placido Domingo, an ‘extraordinary ensemble of creative minds and operatic entrepreneurs’ who are supposed to keep the FWO up to speed with the world’s best.

Oh, yeah?

Domingo is 76 years old, general director of Los Angeles Opera and still managing a busy singing and conducting career. He will give Fort Worth about a nanosecond of his flickering attention span every other month or so.

What kind of leadership is that? FWO comes out of the deal looking like hicks, Domingo like a greedy hack.



  • Ungeheuer says:

    Yes, shameful. Worse than PD himself are the psycophants that keep opening doors for him when, at this late stage, they ought to be shutting one after the other. I hear Southern Calif has a good number of nice retirement homes. For sure doors ought to be opening there for him.

    • MiamiFloria says:

      Ageist much?

    • Eric von Ibler says:

      I agree. There is a time to bow out gracefully and spend time encouraging the up-and-coming young singers. His legacy as a wonderful tenor is bring marred by his present day singing as a mediocre baritone! He was my ideal tenor for decades.

  • Anonymouse says:

    I don’t think this is true at all. Fort Worth puts on a small number of productions per year and a small number of total performances. An advisory board of international figures will enable them to sidestep some of the more expensive aspects of administration (auditioning and travelling to see singers in performances, for example), letting them bring some key developing artists, as well as established stars, to Texas. Domingo is rather good at that sort of thing. A number of artists he’s developing sing in houses worldwide. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

    • MacroV says:

      Helping them out by referring singers on occasion is one thing, and if that’s all he’s doing, no problem. But an opera house/company needs a leader, someone not necessarily glamourous, but ready to work every day to produce compelling opera in Fort Worth. It makes the people in Fort Worth look star-struck and lacking confidence in their own abilities.

      • JimmyJames says:

        Domingo’s presence may entice some new donors in the short term. However, any monetary gains will already be lost by whatever fee he will draw from the company for his services. That money could have gone toward the hiring of new, exciting, local emerging artists/conductors/directors, but now Fort Worth will most assuredly find itself hiring almost exclusively from Domingo’s personal list of favorites, i.e. current and former YAs from LA Opera, Washington National Opera, and Operalia.

        Domingo has done so much for the world of opera, but one wonders if the best thing he could do now would be to hang it up and let the next generation have their turn.

  • James says:

    Surely the main point of this is that access to Domingo’s name and personage will be bait for sponsors and patrons? He may well have some interesting ideas about repertoire, but I’m willing to bet that wasn’t what was foremost in the mind of the powers that be.

    • MWnyc says:

      ^ This ^

    • Nick says:

      Totally agree. Even if he turns up for just one fundraiser every 3 – 6 months, it could have quite an impact on the company’s finances.

    • Respect says:

      Yeah. How did that work out for the nearly bankrupt Washington National Opera? The company hired Domingo for the same rationale (I know this first hand)he ran wild with the companies finances and virtually destroyed the company.

      • Wiener says:

        Die Domingo Ära war die einzige Zeit wo hunderte Opernfans ,auch wir ,nach Washington fuhren.

        • Respect says:

          Wiener: one is painfully aware of the hundreds of fanboys who follow “famous”, if not necessarily great singers from locale to locale, just as most of your hometown company sells most of its seats to Japanese tourists. This is hardly a reflection of the success or failure of a company, but rather what it contributes to the community it resides in. The ruination of a company, which barely survived his firing after it became untenable to keep an expensive ornament at the head, is not a sign of success, whether you “flew in” or not.

          • AMetFan says:

            Experience at the international level hardly prepares anyone for the very real, grass-roots demands of a small regional company. Their needs are apples and oranges. A one-off fundraiser? Fine. Advice on singers they can’t afford or rep/productions many sizes too big? No. The setup sort of works for Chicago Lyric with Fleming because of size and prominence (both the company and Ms. Fleming), plus her generous salary can easily be absorbed.

            The cautionary tale of NYCO, while not a regional company, should scare the bejeezus out of those board members in Fort Worth. (I am still heartbroken over NYCO and blame a know-it-all board member.) They need a good, experienced RESIDENT director who understands Fort Worth’s population and capacities. Eyes can often be bigger than stomachs.

            I love Fort Worth…it is a substantial community with a proud history. They don’t need to add expensive window dressing.

  • AMetFan says:

    Fort Worth has had a relatively long—and certainly not unsuccessful–opera company, dating back to the era of Rudolf Kruger of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. (I remember that they mounted operas for a young Beverly Sills, long before her later success; a fact she never forgot.) Their festival formula in more recent years seems to have worked well and attracted a lot of critical acclaim.

    All said, it is still a modest regional company in a moderate size city and should rediscover their niche–one that they can afford long-term. They could take a page from the Fort Worth Symphony and see where unbridled expansion can lead. Yes, there is a lot of money in Fort Worth and the city does have fine museums and other arts institutions. But there is another way to go other than trying to attract “international” singers and directors.

    We have plenty of fine singers, directors, and conductors in this country. Heck, there is plenty of professional level talent in Texas alone. Finding an affordable and unique niche among regional companies (especially given their proximity to Dallas) would be much more sensible. I greatly admire Mr. Domingo and don’t dismiss him for a moment. Fort Worth would do well to emulate a company like the Opera Theater of St. Louis, which in only 40 years has made its mark without exceeding its fiscal capabilities.

    For all performing arts companies, sustainability is key. Expansionism will lead to nowhere but ruin.

  • WW says:

    What total nonsense this article is!
    Those who know Placido say that Fort Worth will get many times more value than anything they might pay! he is immensely generous of spirit, more energetic than most people half his age!!
    Bravissimo for Fort Worth!!!

  • Kostis Protopapas says:

    Thanks for calling the bs, Norman. And happy birthday!