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Listen: Plácido Domingo on why opera will live forever

The legendary performer is back at Covent Garden to conduct Puccini's Tosca with The Royal Opera.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

16 February 2018 at 3.35pm | 10 Comments

'When people say to me, "It's difficult times for opera - do you think it's dying out?", I always say: "Opera is immortal"', says legendary singer and conductor Plácido Domingo.

'Unless in a few years we're all robots without feeling, heart and soul, then people will continue to be enchanted, touched and moved [by the art form]. They'll cry and will feel joy with this phenomenal music. There's nothing better.'

Domingo has returned to Covent Garden to conduct The Royal Opera's production of Puccini's Tosca, a piece that he knows well as he made his ROH debut in the principal role of Cavaradossi nearly 50 years ago.

'I made my [Royal Opera House] debut in Franco Zeffirelli's production', Domingo told BBC Radio 4's Today. 'I called him yesterday because it was his birthday and said "I'm in Covent Garden conducting Tosca and I remember when I was singing here in 1971!"

But what is it that keeps him coming back, both on stage and in the pit, to this particular piece?

'Puccini was one of the greatest composers, especially for the public. In just a few bars, we realise what's happening, and you feel the drama. It's just amazing.'

'For me the most important thing is that in every word and every phrase, you give everything [as a performer]. In Andalucia we have something that we call El duende – a little dwarf. When [everything in a performance is just right] you say the duende is there: I have an extraordinary orchestra, production, colleagues; and the public is with you. This is the magic of opera'

Tosca runs until 3 March 2018. Tickets are sold out, although returns may become available and Friday Rush sees tickets released each week.

The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Aud Jebsen, Rena and Sandro Lavery, The Mikheev Charitable Trust and Mr and Mrs Christopher W.T. Johnston.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

16 February 2018 at 3.35pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged BBC Radio 4, by Jonathan Kent, conductor, interview, Placido Domingo, Production, Tosca

This article has 10 comments

  1. Lan Xiao responded on 16 February 2018 at 4:01pm Reply

    Maestro Domingo has made the most profound and enduring contribution to the art of opera while still doing more everyday for the betterment of humanity. He is such an inspiration and his words above are so illuminating. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Joan Trainor responded on 17 February 2018 at 12:40am Reply

    I have had the privilege of hearing and witnessing the towering talent of this legendary artist many times down the years, and it is humbling to listen to him discussing his art and his love of Tosca in such a gentle and revealing way; and so typical of this kind and caring human being to ring ‘Franco’ to tell him of his memories of 1971! We must treasure every moment this monumental artist can offer us - in whatever capacity! Thank you Maestro!

  3. Alastair responded on 18 February 2018 at 6:29pm Reply

    In an age when everyone is preoccupied with Artificial Intelligence, he could not have spoken wiser words - human intelligence personified. Heading to Paris this week, just to see him in La Traviata, alongside Anna Netrebko. Can't wait.

    • Alastair responded on 19 February 2018 at 3:59pm

      Spoke too soon. Netrebko has called off due to illness. Will she appear for Macbeth next month? Wouldn't risk my shirt on it ...

  4. Susan Anderson Hudek responded on 18 February 2018 at 9:44pm Reply

    May God grant Maestro Domingo the ability to bring his incredible genius to opera, whether it be by his singing or by conducting. My love and admiration holds no bounds. Clearly his involvement at the age of 77 shows his undiminishing love for the forum. God Bless dear MAESTRO. Your presence is a true blessing for all of us

  5. Jose Luis responded on 20 February 2018 at 11:56pm Reply

    Que admirable personalidad que entrañable persona!

  6. Jane and John Clay responded on 21 February 2018 at 1:55pm Reply

    We saw him conduct Tosca on the 19th and his enthusiasm and love for the music was so infectious. He is a wonderful performer and has brought opera to the masses. We heard him sing 40 years ago and still have the same admiration. Long may he continue and hopefully be singing and conducting for many more years.
    Thank you Maestro for your contribution to music.

  7. Anne Aldridge responded on 21 February 2018 at 3:11pm Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful interview and just to say you have been there the whole time I have been trying to sing and always great example in every way.

  8. Christine responded on 1 March 2018 at 8:51am Reply

    I found it quite emotional just listening to his thoughts on Tosca and opera generally.
    He has always been my most admired and loved performer and conductor. Long may he continue to make his mark on the wonderful world of opera. Thank you so much Placido

  9. chad responded on 17 March 2018 at 4:38am Reply

    giacomo puccini will forever be the herioc OPERA COMPOSER his music will live forever.

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