Placido Domingo adds another role, his 1,154th

Placido Domingo adds another role, his 1,154th


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2019

The former tenor will sing in Donizetti’s Robert Devereux at LA Opera next season, it has just been announced.

It will be his 154th role, but it might as well be his 1,154th for all its significance beyond the personal record.

Other LA highlights include Renee Fleming in Adam Guettel’s musical ‘A Light in the Piazza’, as well as two Barrie Kosky productions.

Also Danielle De Niese in the world premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s ‘Eurydice’.



  • Caravaggio says:

    Please let’s not give the megalomaniac the attention he craves.

  • Sibylle Luise Binder says:

    And here, ladies and gentlemen, you can watch how someone destroys his own legend. Placido Domingo was a great tenor – probably not as great as he believed himself, but nevertheless a versatile, hard-working, disciplined singer who could convince in a lot of roles. But then came the day when his voice aged – as voices do.
    Instead of bidding farewell, he decided he’s now a baritone – and one wonders: Didn’t he ever hear about timbre? Anyway, he started to sing the baritone roles, but .. well, age isn’t to stop. With every months he became more short winded and the voice “dried” up. One saw that he had problems to move on stage, that his eye sight isn’t good anymore – and what was once a heroe of the stage, is now a pathetic old man. One wonders why people still pay money to see him – do they hope of the “sensation” to see him fall on stage?
    I think the PD show is now really embarassing. He isn’t the “king of opera”, but an old man whose life is obviously so empty that he can’t live without the applause and adoration of the audience. He’s a sad case and I wish he’d step back before he becomes booed from his beloved stage.

    • Mark Hildrew says:

      Well said, Sybille. I wonder how many more new roles he can learn before 2020

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Unfortunately I agree. If Domingo doesn’t want to rest, there is no shortage of good causes he could be a fit for. He can take his pick(s).

    • M McAlpine says:

      Yes it is sad to me. I believe it was Joan Sutherland who, when asked why she was retiring, said, “I don’t want people saying, ‘When is the poor old thing going to give up!'” I think PD could take a leaf out of her book. A really great tenor – one of the greatest. A not-so-great baritone. Why on earth can’t he see it?

      • Yes Addison says:

        Whether Sutherland was aware of it or not, some people had been saying that about her for years. (Martin Mayer, _Opera_, 1987: “Joan Sutherland simply ought not to have been attempting this role on this stage at this time of life. Everyone I know who knows her likes Dame Joan; one of her friends must tell her that the time comes when an artist whose stock-in-trade has been voice rather than musicianship or expression or dramatic force must hang it up. At best there were a few phrases in the penultimate scene that were not actually unpleasant to hear. Otherwise it is cruel, but true, to say that if your neighbour sang as Sutherland sang on November 21, you would ask the janitor to tell her to stop.”)

      • Nick2 says:

        Not the best book, in my view. The decision on retirement must be especially difficult for singers. I heard Dame Joan in a concert when she was 63 but still had a couple of roles coming up in both London and Sydney. The voice in the first half was threadbare and the performance dreadfully embarrassing. She was certainly better after the interval, but it was clear this was either an off night or she had extended her career too long by at least a couple of years.

        Other artists are better able to look after their voices. A year later I was at an exquisite recital by Christa Ludwig when a few months short of age 63. Yet the glorious Dame Janet Baker decided to retire completely at the relatively early age of 56.

        If PD is still a star in some eyes – and lets’ face it, there are many fading stars around Los Angeles – who is to say pumpkin time is just minutes away? As long as he sells tickets, I expect he will continue for some years yet!

    • Saskia says:

      Thank you, Sibylle, I couldn’t agree more with every single world you wrote.

    • Barbara Shaw says:

      Placido Domingo is doing just fine. His voice is still fantastic. Mr. Domingo treats those he works with and those fortunate enough to meet him with respect.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        “…those fortunate enough to meet him”

        I really do hope he doesn’t think this of the people who meet him…

    • Bruce says:

      I suppose it’s so they can say they “saw the legendary Domingo” before he retires dies? Surely not — at this point — for the artistic experience.

    • Jack says:

      And a hundred years from now when people will be reading the record of Domingo’s fabled career and Sibylle Louise Binder will be a speck of dust in the firmament . . .

      • Sibylle Luise Binder says:

        I’m sure Maestro Domingo will be discussed for a long time – only I’m not sure that he’ll get only praize. I reckon he will be seen as an example for an artist who couldn’t stop at the right time and whose late performances were often enough rather embarrassing.
        As far as I’m concerned: Artists know that in our professions “stardome” isn’t only dependent on talent, discipline and ability, but on luck, too. And perhaps one needs more ambition as I’ve got. I’m actually not interested in fame and glory.

    • Eagelarts says:

      I’m sorry but you are out of line here. On what basis are you making these remarks? Have you heard him regularly in the baritone roles? I have and on many nights his voice and artistry would be the envy of much younger singers.

      • Sibylle Luise Binder says:

        I have heard him in four or five baritone roles – last time as Gianni Schicchi in L.A. It was horrible, especially compared to Sir Thomas Allen who’d sung the role in this production in L.A. and Spoleto. Domingo wasn’t only short-winded, he was almost inaudible in the deeper parts and as a “stage presence” – it was for crying! I remember times when he “filled” a stage and one couldn’t hardly take one’s eyes of him. In L.A. I partly closed my eyes because it was hard to bear to see this old man move wearisome and tired through the piece.
        I don’t understand why he took over this role. There are many younger, good baritones who can sing it and who certainly would have enjoyed to do so.

    • Eaglearts says:

      Go outside and get some exercise Sibylle, clear your head!

    • Lauretta says:

      You absolutely nailed it, Sibylle! Who does he think he is fooling being a “baritone”, singing all these roles or “conducting”? Pity he still has a lot of media coverage and power as a boss, or we wouldn’t see so many of his colleagues making him false compliments…

  • Mark Hildrew says:

    ==It will be his 154th role, but t might as well be his 1,154th

    The title of this thread has picked up the fake news figure (1,154) rather than 154. But never mind – this is like Rostropovich commissioning cello concertos – something like 250. When only a handful were pieces either he ever played more than a couple of times. Bit of a vanity trip

    • Rick says:

      Can you please give a source for this information abort Mr Rostropovich, in particular that he commissioned something like 250 cello concertos?

  • Sanity says:

    A role for every year of his life!

  • Sebastian Petit says:

    I hate to denigrate a once great artist but I wouldn’t attend a Domingo performance these days if you paid me

  • Spenser says:

    Basta, Maestro Domingo. Basta!

  • Novagerio says:

    Nobody has ever sung 1.000 roles, at least in its entirety.
    150 are definitely enough. Throw on top of that some 10-15 extra roles in another vocal range and that’s all a human being can achieve during a 55 year long career.

  • Marg says:

    Cant help thinking of Dame Janet Baker who retired at the peak of her career.

  • Barbara Shaw says:

    Mr Domingo is a very talented man. I have NEVER heard a bad word about him.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      You may not have HEARD a bad word said about him. However, you have READ many bad words about him on this website…

    • Sibylle Luise Binder says:

      In the classical scene one doesn’t badmouth colleagues. Even if they drove you up the walls, even if they behaved like animals – one only talks among insiders about it.
      The only musician I remember breaking the rule of “one doesn’t badmouth colleagues” was Sergiu Celibidache who was never shy of saying what he thought. Otherwise one of the most used lines in the scene, especially in talking to journalists, is “don’t quote me with that!”

  • Mark Hildrew says:

    ==Mr Domingo is a very talented man. I have NEVER heard a bad word about him.

    Err, you’re reading Slipped Disc, aren’t you ? After that Bayreuth Valkyre last year, PD ought to lay low. I was there, was awful

  • Wiener says:

    Niemand muss in eine Aufführung gehen, wenn er einen Sänger nicht möchte.

  • Vienna calling says:

    Has anyone spitting poison here tried to get a ticket when PD sings? As long as his performances are sold out silly and people are happy to hear him, leave him alone. He is also clearly still making a lot of money, so agents in particular should understand why nobody wants him to stop.

    • Sibylle Luise Binder says:

      Do you remember Sergiu Celibidache? I grew up in Stuttgart und I spent a lot of time in his rehearsals and concerts. And so I remember the interview in which he was asked what he thought about Karajan. Celibidache named him an “elegant, but superficial conductor”. And as the shocked reporter stuttered: “But Karajan is known all over the world!” the Maestro answered dryly: “So is Coca-Cola.”

      I think just in classical musik you should never try to argue with “he’s got so many fans”. If you’d take this for a sign of “quality” you must logically acknowledge that Michael Jackson was a “better” singer as everything the classical scene had to offer.

      Besides you’re wrong in two points: There are a lot of people who want him to stop. But some of them (count me among them) aren’t “spitting poison” against an artist they once adored. They’re not hateful, but just disappointed and sad. As I said before: We have to watch how a once great artist destroys his own legend.

      Let me try to explain it with an example: Kurt Moll. For me he was one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. The best Ochs, a wonderful Sarastro, a Gurnemanz to remember for ever. In 2006 – 68 years old – he retired. And so he stays in our memory as a wonderful basso and a great artist and I smile when thinking of him and how much pleasure he gave us.

      I would have liked to think of Placido Domingo as I think of Kurt Moll or Ileana Cotrubas (who knew too when it was time to finish). I would have liked to remember him as Othello (he was really a great Othello), as Rudolfo, as Germont jun., as Bajazzo. But now I can’t think of him without remembering the Gianni Schicchi in Los Angeles which was really embarrassing. He fought with the music, he looked tired and for everyone who knew the production (I love Gianni Schicchi and I was once very curious what Woody Allen would do with it, so I’ve seen it in Los Angeles and Spoleto) it was clear that some parts of what Thomas Allen had done (and he’s got talent for comedy and he’s still very quick on his feet and fit) were cancelled because Domingo wasn’t up to jumping in bed, playing around on narrow spiral stairs and such jokes. It was rather obvious that he is too old for such roles. He can’t sing them anymore, he can’t play anymore – and it makes one sad to see how he tries and one wonders why he does that to himself.

      As far as I’m concerned I can assure you: I hate that so many agents and principals don’t care an iota about artistic integrity, but only about money. But I certainly don’t hate PD. I rather pity him and I’d wish in his interest he’d stop and enjoy his old age with his grandchildren and his lovely home in Acapulco.

  • aj says:

    If so called music lovers would stay away en masse whenever his name showed up on a program he would soon be forgotten but alas they buy tickets and complain
    to what is their own stupidity. Don’t go ,he’ll be gone …..