Placido Domingo Ė My Greatest Roles
The Documentary
Placido Domingo (tenor)
Produced and Directed by Chris Hunt
An Iambic Media Production in association with ZDF and Arte, 2009
WARNER/NVC ARTS 50-51865-6282-2-4 [80:00]

There isnít a lot to this DVD. Itís intended as an accompaniment to Warnerís new series of Placido Domingoís Greatest Roles (see review of Volume 1). Letís hope that Warner release many volumes because the titbits sampled here are thrilling. The presentation lets it down, though. All you get are frustratingly tiny excerpts which are often interrupted with speech or voice-over. Itís interesting only as an appetiser, though everything on offer here makes fantastic listening. Carmen from Vienna finds him on fantastic form in the flower song, and he is caught in full - if frustratingly abbreviated - flow in Andrea Chenier, also from Vienna. Likewise, a youthful Ernani from La Scala and Fanciulla del West from Covent Garden are quite thrilling, but they only leave you hungry for more. Otello (Covent Garden) and Lohengrin (Vienna) both sound fantastic, but you never get any more than a minute of music before an interruption. Hoffmann from Covent Garden suffers the same fate, though I wasnít sorry to see the back of a rather daft production of Samson et Dalila from San Francisco. The single most satisfying excerpt is his Gioconda (Vienna) where he sings Cielo e Mar in the full flush of his vocal prime: itís all the more frustrating that the entire second stanza is lost! The role he spends most time on is Cavaradossi, though I suspect thatís due to the unique nature of Andrea Andermannís live film in the setting and times of the opera, so that we are treated to lingering views of St Peterís during E lucevan le stelle.

These extracts are interspersed with somewhat vapid biographical details and with the tenor himself discussing the roles in brief, but anyone looking for profound revelations will be disappointed. For anyone interested, itís far better to go to Helena Matheopoulosí ghost-written book, Placido Domingo: My Operatic Roles Ė this contains real insights and fascinating comments on all the characters he had played on stage up to the point of publication, though itís difficult to get a hold of these days.

We are given barely any technical details: no co-stars are credited and there are no details of dates of recording, only the venues.

These really do capture Domingo in his ďGreatest RolesĒ, but this wonít satisfy anyone with more than a superficial knowledge of his work. Itís a sample menu only: is it too cynical to call it a marketing device? Save your money and buy some of the complete performances on offer instead.

Simon Thompson