le 30 mars 2014
Domingo has been always there, from the very beginning of my operagoing years. Singing most of the times gloriously with a darkish tenor voice, manly and sweet, when needed, romantic and heroic, and a warmth that, in a good night (and there've been so many!), caressed the ears and excited the senses. He may not have been blessed with a very easy top (neither was Caruso), but in artistry, musicianship and breadth of repertoty he is peerless. I've had the good fortune of seeing him many times, mainly at Covent Garden, but also the Met, Los Angeles, Teatro Real (Madrid) and Liceu (Barcelona). I will never forget that superb Otello in London, conducted by Carlos Kleiber, followed a few months later by a Rodolfo (Bohème) that brought tears to my eyes. I had the opportunity of asking Dame Eva Turner, that despite being in her ninetiies attended opera performances regularly at the ROH, for her opinion of Domingo's performance of Otello that night and the legendary soprano, wihoutt hesitation, replied that it was the best Otello she had ever heard. And when I dared ask if she was including Martinelli's (widely regarded as a peerles Moor and a tenor idolised by her, who usually called him "the prince of Italian tenors", rolling her r's marvellously) she again repeated, the best I've heard. Not many of the arias and scenes of 39 roles, captured live at the MET, and released now by Sony to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his debut in that house, reach that same level of sublime excellence. How could they? But they never are less than compeling performances and alltogether represent quite a comprehensive sample of Domingo's unique artistry. It would take too much space to mention all my favourites. In the first disc alone (dedicated to Verdi, his -and my- favourite composer) there are several excellent performances from Simon Boccanegra (as Grabiele in 1995 and the bariitone title role in 2010), Don Carlo, Rodolfo (Luisa Miller), La Forza del Destino, Il Trovatore (with a small but superb contibution of Montserrat Caballé, in a recording from 1973 that Sony should release complete), Traviata (as Alfredo and Germont)..., and a spellbinding Otello (Niun mi tema). The second disc (mainly Puccini and verismo) has some great tracks as well (including a Recondita Armonia from 1969, the oldest recording in the set, just a year after his debut in the Met), with a Domingo suitably ardent in most of them. Finally, the third disc, with a selection of excerpts from the French, Russian and German schools (apart from Tan Dun's Emperor Quin, a role in English he created in 2007), is a showcase of Domingo's unparalleled versatility. Of course of many selections one can think of individual performances sung better by other tenors from the past and even the present. But taken as a whole, there in no other singer that could approach him in range and consistent high level of ecellence. Domingo is a miracle and this set will be good testimony for those in the future that didn't have the fortune to see him on stage. The general quality of the sound is very good. The booklet could have been meatier, but has some nice pictures. Highly recommended.