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The Berlin Concert – Live from the Waldbühne
Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Nabucco: Overture [8:15]
Francesco CILEA (1866–1950)
L’Arlesiana: È la solita storia¹ [4:59]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro² [3:21]
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)
Le Mage: Ah! Parais! Parais, aster de mon ciel³ [4:13]
Giuseppe VERDI
Otello: Già nella notte densa¹² [10:40]
Georges BIZET (1838–1875)
Carmen: Entr’acte [3:38]
Les Pêcheurs de perles: Au fond du temple saint¹³ [5:20]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Semiramide: Overture [12:24]
Maria GREVER (1885–1951)
Júrame³ [5:07]
Franz LEHÁR (1870–1948)
Giuditta: Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiss² [6:05]
Ernesto DE CURTIS (1875–1937)
Non ti scordar de me¹³ [3:56]
La Bohème: O soave fanciulla²³ [4:51]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863–1945)
Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo [3:56]
Furio RENDINE (1920–1987)
Vurria¹ [4:18]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918–1990)
West Side Story: Tonight²³ [4:56]
Gioacchino ROSSINI
La danza³ [4:11]
La Bohème: Quando men vo² [3:36]
Pablo SOROZABÁL (1897–1988)
La tabernera del Puerto: No puede ser¹ [4:38]
Giuseppe VERDI
La traviata: Libiamo ne’ lieti calici (Brindidi)¹²³ [4:35]
Das Land des Lächelns: Dein ist mein ganzes Herz¹²³
Plácido Domingo (tenor)¹, Anna Netrebko (soprano)², Rolando Villazon (tenor)³,
Orchester der Deutsches Oper Berlin/Marco Armiliato
rec. live, Waldbühne Berlin, 7 July 2006
Picture format: NTSC Colour 16:9; Sound formats: PCM Stereo DTS 5.1
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0734302 [110:00]

Waldbühne (Stage in the forest) is an enormous outdoor arena, an amphitheatre in western Berlin, built in 1936 at the same time as the Olympic Stadium was erected. On the evening of 7 July 2006, two days before the World Cup final at the adjacent stadium, an audience of 20,000 gathered to see and hear three of today’s greatest opera singers in tremendous high spirits and vocal shape. Marco Armiliato and the Orchestra of Deutsche Oper opened the proceedings with a lively Nabucco overture. After that the first to enter the elegantly designed stage, with the well-known theme from the chorus Va pensiero as a contrasting middle section, was Plácido Domingo. He is casually dressed with open shirt collar, grey-bearded and today beginning to look his age but still singing phenomenally well – at 65! – with the intensity and involvement that have been his hallmark ever since he came to notice almost half a century ago. The voice is also remarkably unimpaired – he has to work harder and there is – at least in his first aria, Federico’s lament from L’Arlesiana – a slightly widened vibrato. But once he has warmed up – and I actually made the same comment recently when reviewing another outdoor concert with him at Wembley from 1987 (see review) – by and large his voice sounds much the same as it has done for at least the last 25 years. Experienced as he is, he never resorts to routine singing but goes wholeheartedly into his characters. This can be seen and heard in any number here, whether a song or an opera part, but the supreme example is undoubtedly the love duet from Otello, where every nuance, every inflexion, is so alive and deeply felt. He temporarily returns to his original voice pitch – he started as a baritone – in the duet from Les Pêcheurs de perles and in his solo in the quite extended Encores section he is deeply involved in what is possibly his favourite zarzuela aria¸ No puede ser from Sorozabál’s 1936 zarzuela La tabernera del Puerto. He sang it at Wembley in 1987 and I heard him sing it in Stockholm many years ago.
By his side two of the hottest singers in the new generation are in correspondingly superb shape. Hearing Rolando Villazon today is like being transported back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Domingo was at his sappiest. Villazon’s timbre is very similar to that of the young Domingo and he has the same engaging stage presence. His voice today rings out even freer at the top and he phrases with the utmost musicality. His first solo, the rarely heard aria from Massenet’s Le Mage has it all. Considering his slim constitution it is also a big-boned voice. In his solo encore, La danza, he sings and acts with such flair as making him a born entertainer. He is also a splendid actor and the Bohème duet with Anna Netrebko, shown mostly in close-ups, is both for acting and singing one of the most sensual and moving I have seen.
Sensual is also the word for Ms Netrebko, combining extremely good looks with lovely demeanour. Her seductive Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiss is a challenge to any operetta prima donna, present or past. She has a glorious voice, used with utter sensitivity. I have praised her singing in two recital discs recently (see reviews of her Russian and Mozart Albums); and she more than lives up to expectations here. O mio babbino caro is wonderfully nuanced, her Musetta is another seducer and the glimpse of her Violetta, famous from the Salzburg DVD, is also ravishing.
Maestro Armiliato and the orchestra give the singers a few minutes’ rest by playing a colourful Semiramide overture, where the wind players have a field day, and the strings soar warmly but without sentimentality in Mascagni’s eternal Intermezzo.
With three charming singing actors giving their audience a real treat, this concert is something to return to. We watched it on an evening when winter finally struck in Scandinavia and the temperature went down to -18º C, but after its 1½ hours duration it felt like Spring was approaching rapidly.
Göran Forsling

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