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An Evening With Placido Domingo - Live at Wembley
Umberto GIORDANO (1867–1948)
Fedora (1898): Amor ti vieta;
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
La fanciulla del West (1910): Ch’ella mi creda;
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Il trovatore (1853): Soli or siam!¹;
La bohème (1896): O Mimi, tu piu non torni²;
Frederick LOEWE (1901–1988)
My Fair Lady (1956): On the street where you live
Franz LEHAR (1870–1948)
Die lustige Witwe (1905): Da geh’ ich zu Maxim;
Reveriano SOUTULLO (1884–1931) Juan VERT (1890–1932)
El ultimo romantico (1928): Bella enamorada;
Manuel PENELLA  (1880–1939)
El Gato Montés (1916)¹: Duet;
Pablo SOROZABAL (1897–1988)
La Taberna del Puerto (1936): No puede ser;
Salvatore CARDILLO (1874–1947)
Core ’ngrato (1911);
Augustin LARA  (1896–1970)
Placido Domingo (tenor)
Martha Senn (mezzo)¹, Eduard Tumagian (baritone)²
English Chamber Orchestra/Eugene Kohn
rec. live, Wembley Arena, London, 21 June 1987;
NTCS 4:3; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
WARNER MUSIC VISION 50-51011-2642-2-1 [54:00]

The present concert was recorded at a charity gala, “Save the Children”, at Wembley almost twenty years ago when Placido Domingo was at the height of his powers. On that occasion he was both inspired and inspirational. Backed by the admirable ECO under Eugene Kohn, a favourite conductor of Domingo’s, the great tenor delivers a resounding opening number, Giordano’s Amor ti vieta. This is honest and full-voiced singing but without many nuances. It feels a bit like a warm-up, but it should be added that Domingo in warm-up sings more gloriously than almost any other tenor on top form. And then he moves over to the next song but after some nice and cosy conversation with the audience. This is Dick Johnson’s aria from The Girl from the Golden West in which he finds nuances and a marvellous honeyed pianissimo that eluded him on the complete recording dating from about the same time.
Enter Colombian mezzo-soprano Martha Senn to join Domingo in a dramatic scene from Il trovatore. Visually she isn’t quite believable as Domingo’s mother but her intense singing and impressive chest-notes, dark as her hair, are impressive. The next guest is Romanian baritone Eduard Tumagian, who was one of the best Verdi singers for a number of years. He had a fine Rigoletto for Naxos. In the Rodolfo–Marcello duet that opens the last act of La bohème there is excellent interplay between the two singers and here also a beautiful pianissimo ending.
After this foray into traditional opera, Domingo takes a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about his early years as an operetta and musical singer. He begins with a glorious On the street where you live from My Fair Lady, a song I can’t remember hearing from him before. Apologizing charmingly for his English, which, as he puts it, needed some polishing by Professor Higgins, he returns to his native Spanish for a second stanza. Singing in his mother tongue his delivery is even more glowing.
More surprises: In his formative years he also sang in The Merry Widow and, again in Spanish he is the most elegant Danilo, radiating tons of charm in the indestructible Maxim couplet.
Both his parents were zarzuela artists and young Placido got his bread and butter from appearing in this Spanish operetta genre. He has frequently included arias from zarzuela in his concert programmes and recorded collections of arias. There is a special glow, a special timbre, in his voice in this music. Bella enamorata is such a beautiful melody and it can’t possibly be better sung. In a duet from El Gato Montes (The Wild Cat) he is joined again by Martha Senn, who lightens her voice beautifully. No puede ser, written more than fifty years before this concert, becomes a tribute to its composer Sorozabal, who was still among us in 1987. He died the following year, aged 91.
Time for encores, and what encores! Core ‘ngrato, written for Enrico Caruso, is sung with such feeling that it challenges even his great predecessor. After a grandiose Granada there is no end to the ovations. Before and between the encores Domingo keeps busy collecting the flowers being handed to or thrown onto the stage and he is worth everyone of them. It is a privilege to see a concert so filled with superb music-making and happy atmosphere. The only thing that breaks this spell is that the cameras on one or two occasions manages to zoom in on a couple of real sourpusses in the audience. The video direction is unfussy and the sound is fine for its age. I can’t believe that there are people out there who wouldn’t like this DVD. It is an hour filled with pleasure.
Göran Forsling


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