Peter Gelb planned Domingo’s retirement back in 2006

Peter Gelb planned Domingo’s retirement back in 2006


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2019

From an interview with AFP:

When Peter Gelb took over New York’s legendary Metropolitan Opera in 2006, one of his jobs was to organize a farewell for Placido Domingo…. ‘Since it was unimaginable that he could possibly be singing for much longer after an unmatched Met career that was soon to span four decades of starring roles,’ Gelb told AFP, ‘one of the responsibilities I was preparing for was Placido’s farewell.’

With many singers’ voices withering by the time they hit their 40s, the unfailingly modest 78-year-old has somehow managed to keep performing at the top level. ‘Instead of retiring, Placido apparently discovered his own fountain of youth, reinventing himself as a baritone… ‘This past season, we held ceremonies for Placido on several occasions in honor of his five decades of leading roles on the stage of the Met — an accomplishment that is impossible to imagine ever being achieved again….’

Read on here.




  • Caravaggio says:

    If only the man had taken heed. I mean the older one.

    • Alan says:

      Yes. So many millions wouldn’t have enjoyed his performances since 2006. But you’d be happy. And sure that’s all that matters.

    • Emil says:

      I heard him in Berlin two months ago (Macbeth), and I was way more bothered by whoever decided he should jump in bed wearing black shiny polyester with a mezzo half his age than I was by his voice. He never was and will never be the world’s greatest baritone, but the artistry is still there, and the voice still has that same ringing quality.

      • Marj says:

        I saw him in the recent Macbeth and thought he was absolutely superb in his acting and nothing about his singing bothered me. If he wants to go on singing, and Opera Companies are happy to schedule him, good for Placido. As others have observed, if you dont like his singing, dont bother going. But some of us enjoy his artistry.

    • Maria says:

      Always so cynical and always trying to appear superior in knowledge with your comments. If you don’t like Placido as a baritone, which is how he started out in life, you don’t have to go! Simple!

      • Ramon Figueroa says:

        Some of us don’t go. At this point I even avoid listening to his performances as a baritone. They are a disfigurement of what Verdi wrote. But I guess we are not allowed to complain about his attempts at hanging on for dear life. Yes, he continues to be successful, but not artistically, not really, and especially compared with his tenor years. He never was my favorite (except in a joint concert with Milnes at the Met, where she just sang one glorious number after another). But he was a very complete performer, and very, very intelligent about the music making (too bad that doesn’t translate to his work as a conductor). I think he should have never tried to compete with Pavarotti in the popularity sweepstakes. I guess he felt he needed to do it, but there was a noticeable change in his already busy career at that point. It went into overdrive.

  • Silversled says:

    Domingo’s grim determination to hang on to his career at all costs does not mean one is obliged to attend his public displays of ineptitude. Tickets for his performances are just that, tickets; they are not subpoenas forcing anyone’s attendance.

    • Jack says:

      I know, he should have done the sports arena circuit singing schlock like Pavarotti and his sheet-sized towel. I applaud his artistic ambition to explore new roles as long as he can. He’s a real treasure.

  • Scott says:

    Placido is making a fool of himself. He should have retired in 2006.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Apparently Peter Gelb correctly predicted that Domingo couldn’t sing much longer as a tenor. But Gelb failed to predict that Domingo would reinvent himself as a baritone.

    How common is Domingo’s switch from tenor to baritone late in the career? I only know of Ramon Vinay, but he made the switch at 51 and retired at 58.

    • Yes Addison says:

      A year before Gelb took over, Domingo had announced during a Met radio intermission (a round table with Voigt and Pape) that he wanted to sing the title role of Simon Boccanegra before he retired. So that part was already known. What surprised everyone is that rather than being an interesting way to say farewell, it was the start of a phase that has gone on more than a decade.

      It’s not common. I can’t think of anyone comparable.

      Inevitably, someone says he “started as a baritone,” but the people who say that cannot name any baritone roles he sang onstage in his early years as an opera singer. There weren’t any. The first opera companies to employ him put him in tenor roles. After a few seasons of small parts, he was an Alfredo Germont as early as 1961. Whatever year of birth someone accepts as the real one, Domingo was a young man in 1961.

  • Escamillo says:

    Placido is a phenomenon; a great and convincing actor as well as an outstanding singer. The opera films he has made as Otello, Alfredo Germont et al will be marvelled at for decades to come, and rightly so.