Opera fans are in for a treat when stage and screen legend Placido Domingo makes his Bahrain debut this month as part of the Capital of Arab Culture programme.
During a 50-year career, Domingo has played more than 140 roles, conducted 450-plus operas and won just about every award going, including 12 Grammys, and he is also general director of the Los Angeles Opera. With fellow tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, Domingo formed the Three Tenors in 1990, performing at the Baths of Caracella in Rome to sing before the World Cup final, sparking a trend that saw the trio gain international commercial success through the early 2000s and introduce opera to many listeners who’d previously considered it stuffy and boring.
Of that time, he previously told Time Out: “I am proud of what we did with the Three Tenors – as I have said many times, I think that it made opera lovers of many people who had never before had an introduction to opera. But, of course, it was an initiative that couldn’t go on forever, even when Luciano Pavarotti was still alive. And my life now is just as busy, if not more so and just as fulfilling as it was then.”
He’s tackled some of the opera world’s most demanding roles including Otello, Siegmund, Rigoletto and Simon Boccanegra and has recently released his first ‘pop’ album in 30 years Songs.
It features guest appearances from Josh Groban, Harry Connick Jr and Domingo’s own son, Placido Domingo Jr, and a surprising collection of duets with the likes of X Factor phenomenon Susan Boyle, of whom Domingo has said: “It was wonderful, first, to discover her.
“On these live television programmes, sometimes I don’t like the way some of the artists are treated. But the talent that comes out is, no doubt, great. You see somebody that is completely unknown and all of a sudden you hear this sound like an angel.”
In Bahrain, Domingo will perform alongside sopranos Angel Blue, Micaela Oesta and special guest Ghada Shbeir, winner of the BBC3 World Music Awards 2007.
Known for his motto ‘to rest is to rust’, Domingo is now 71 but shows no signs of slowing down.
He said: “I am extremely lucky to be able to sing after more than 50 years in this career. Like most other voices, mine has darkened over time. In my youth I sang Mozart roles like Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte, but it would be ridiculous for me to try to sing them now – just as it would have been ridiculous for me to try to sing Wagner roles like Siegmund or Parsifal then.
“There is no question that one’s voice is fresher when one is young than in later years but if you are interested in achieving artistic depth, you must always feel that you are just starting, no matter how young or old you are. The minute you feel that you have accomplished the maximum, you are finished, artistically.”
And with that in mind, on the inevitable question of retirement, he says: “Why would I want to retire? I love what I do. Of course the day will come when I will have to stop singing – Mother Nature will take care of that – but I hope that I will still be able to conduct, to direct my opera companies and to have an active role in my Operalia competition and my Young Artist programmes as long as I live. I’m very lucky to have been given some talents, and it is my responsibility and my joy to keep using them.”
The concert will take place on November 29, outdoors at the Bahrain National Museum with the new National Theatre serving as a backdrop.