THE WORLD OF PLACIDO DOMINGO by Daniel Snowman

THE WORLD OF PLACIDO DOMINGO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Delightful review of the working life of the world's greatest tenor, whose life is all work, which is to say song. Wisely, Snowman doesn't bother repeating personal biographical material Domingo has already covered himself in his ghosted autobiography My First Forty Years, though this account has been written with Domingo's full cooperation. How does this superstar live? By diary appointments four years ahead. Where his main rival, Pavarotti, has anchored himself solidly into the Met and a concert career, Domingo avoids concerts and instead flies everywhere around the world weekly, aside from his comfortable Met schedule as singer-conductor. Domingo may sing Otello in Israel on Sunday, cut a Boheme recording in London during the week and be in Buenos Aires for a weekend Tosca, meanwhile doing some overdubbing for an earlier TV opera-movie for Zeffirelli (bringing art to the masses) and stopping over in New York for a night's work on one of his new line of pop albums. Unfortunately, he may not get back to the pop album to add some more tracks for another three months. In this way, the Spanish tenor has mastered over 80 roles (including the lengthy, demanding roles of Lohengrin in German and Aeneas in Berlioz' Les Troyens in French)--where Pavarotti has confined himself to 30-odd Italianate roles ideally suited to his high, lyric tenor (Bellini, Donizetti and early-to-middle Verdi). The central theme of this account is vocal artistry and the role of the tenor. ""Domingo's natural vocal centre of gravity is a little lower than that of some leading tenors yet he seems able to cope with the most demanding tessitura."" His great musical sensitivity keeps him striving to let each phrase make its own point rather than allowing him to out-sing his colleagues. He sings, says James Levine, like a conductor. He acts, almost, like an actor. Domingo is never lonely, or rather he is rarely alone, except when sitting down to the piano to master a new role or brush up on an old one. Otherwise he sublimates himself into other people, is off talking to queens or janitors, joking and warmly enjoying himself. One wishes a discography had been included here, but otherwise this portrait is full of rich lore worn lightly, and admiration made infectious.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1985
Publisher: McGraw-Hill