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Posted at 5:52 AM ET, 01/21/2011

Happy Birthday Plácido

By Anne Midgette

Today, as the news of the Kennedy Center-Washington National Opera merger makes its way into the newspapers, the outgoing general director of WNO is feting a long-awaited anniversary of his own. Plácido Domingo is turning 70.

Domingo used to say he would retire at 70; he said that Simon Boccanegra would be his last role on stage. Instead, he's still singing around the world, and added a new, hefty role (Neruda in "Il Postino") in September; he's conducting; he's still running the Los Angeles Opera and, until the end of this season, WNO.

It's easy to be critical of Domingo's track record as an administrator at WNO. But it's also easy to praise his formidable energy, expended in the service of the art form. It may not always be on the mark; but it still leads to some striking performances, and it also does a lot of good in the field.

DG is releasing some new compilations, including a "Fedora" with Angela Gheorghiu, in honor of the birthday. Unfortunately, this being the classical music world, they're not actually coming out on the birthday.

So here are a couple of autumnal toasts raised in Plácido's honor. First, Giovanni Martinelli, aged 75, who used to seem a Methuselah among tenors.

Second, Domingo, aged 69, in the world premiere of "Il Postino."

Happy Birthday, Plácido.

By Anne Midgette  | January 21, 2011; 5:52 AM ET
Categories:  opera  
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Comments

Thanks for both of those, Anne. I had no idea there was an "In fernem Land," so of course I've never heard. I am aware of two other late-career Martinelli Wagner recordings. There's an "O Koenig" from the early 1950s (studio, with piano) and a concert performance, in Italian, of "Wintersturme," that I think is from 1957.

I note, also, that he is believed to have shaved a couple of years off his age, so take "at 75" with a grain of salt.

Posted by: LisaHirsch1 | January 23, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

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