Placido Rocks Ravinia
Well, it was a long time coming. Last year, I learned that Placido Domingo was going to perform at the Ravinia Festival. Tickets went on sale last April. I wasn't taking any chances -- I purchased tickets minutes after they went on sale. Last night was the night; notwithstanding the less than perfect weather, we got to see Placido rock Ravinia -- and it was awesome!
Here's the scoop from the Tribune:
Domingo glorious at Ravinia gala
By John von Rhein
Tribune music critic
August 6, 2007
"Now you can sing along with the Chicago Symphony," a smiling Placido Domingo told the dressy throng in the Ravinia pavilion. "We're going to dance."
With that, the Spanish superstar tenor took the hand of soprano Ana Maria Martinez, his co-star at the festival's gala benefit concert Saturday night, and waltzed her around the stage as the audience hummed along with the duet from Lehar's "Merry Widow," liltingly played by the CSO under-conductor James Conlon.
Domingo looked and sounded like a million bucks, which was close to the amount the annual Ravinia Women's Board fundraiser pulled in — $1.7 million, to be exact. A video screen had been set up to beam the concert to the lawn crowd, and not even the rain that swept through Ravinia Park could dampen the general euphoria. After all, chances to hear the busy singer-cum-conductor-cum-impresario don't often come around.
Domingo sang gloriously, with all the warmth, style, intelligence and taste that have made him, at 66, the supreme lyric-dramatic tenor of the late 20th Century, and, now, the early 21st. The voice rang with such clarion power and passion that for Ravinia to resort to electronic amplification in the pavilion seemed an effrontery, even if sonic enhancement was needed for the lawn denizens.
Gala programs must bow to a wide spectrum of listener tastes, which is why the event (including a black-tie dinner) spanned a mishmash of arias, duets and popular selections ranging from French and Italian opera to Wagner to Spanish zarzuela to "West Side Story." I can't think of another living artist as versatile, as conversant in so many styles, who could have brought it off as successfully — in five languages, at that.
Arias by Massenet and Cilea were models of refined musicality and golden sound. "Winterstuerme," from "Die Walkuere," was a shining souvenir of the only Wagner opera Domingo has sung at the Lyric. And the assembled Verdians thrilled to hear the reigning Otello of our time pouring out his part of the ecstatic love duet from "Otello" in a flood of burnished Italianate sound.
His passionate intensity, there and in zarzuela selections by Torroba, Luna, Sorozabal and Penella, injected pizazz into Martinez's singing, which was pretty and pleasing but rather colorless earlier in the evening. I won't soon forget the ravishing high pianissimo they floated at the end of "Tonight," from "West Side Story."
The audience — who had paid up to $275 for seats — clearly felt it had gotten its money's worth. At the end of the program they rose to their feet in stentorian gratitude, calling the singers back for four encores — including a dashing "Granada" and a charming Puccini "O mio babbino caro."
The event marked the 30th anniversary of Conlon's Ravinia debut. He and the orchestra deserved their ovation for helping to make this one of the best Ravinia galas in recent memory.
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