Plácido Domingo reflects on his new album
The beloved Spanish tenor explains in an exclusive FTGV interview why 'Encanto del Mar' required a different style of singing.
Researching the annals of Plácido Domingo's recording history is like counting how many jelly beans are in a 5-gallon jar. It's an overwhelming task that underscores the prolific career of opera's most beloved and respected tenor.
Of the hundreds of recordings made by Domingo since 1961, his latest, " Encanto del Mar," stands out for its intimate setting and smaller ensemble; a collection of Mediterranean songs that evoke a more personal sound.
"This recording required a very different sort of singing than when I am standing on an opera stage projecting over a huge orchestra to an audience of thousands – and without the help of a microphone," Domingo told From The Grapevine. "For this sort of recording, you have to 'sing to the microphone,' even though you are thinking of projecting the emotion to listeners just as when you are on the stage. But the texts themselves are of a very intimate nature; it’s natural to sing in a more intimate way. And of course being in Valencia when I made the recording, practically on the shore of the Mediterranean, gave the whole process a special feeling."
Complementing Domingo's voice is a small group of musicians on Spanish guitar, clarinet, saxophone, violin, cello, bass, harp, percussion and bandoneon. In partnership with famed producer Robert Sadin, the album features favorite songs sourced from all over the Mediterranean – with folk and popular arrangements from Italy, Spain, France, Israel, Sardinia, Corsica and Cyprus.
"Since I helped to select all of the songs, I don’t have any special favorites: I like all of them! Most of the operas that I sing are in Italian or French, so I am always especially happy when I can sing in Spanish, my native language," he said. "Maybe from a linguistic point of view, the Spanish songs have a slight edge over the others, but from a musical point of view, I don’t make any distinctions. As I said, I like them all."
One song that does hold special meaning for Domingo is his rendition of Israel's "Layla, Layla."
"I spent 2 1/2 years with the Israel Opera Company, from 1962 to 1965, and those were important years: I really learned my profession during that time, and also Marta and I were just married, so it was the real beginning of our life together ... the song 'Layla, Layla' brings back memories of that time," he said. "Both the text and the music are very mystical, but also very emotional."
Domingo is currently starring in his 144th role as the title character of Verdi's "Macbeth" at Berlin's Staatsoper Theater. You can hear a sample from "Encanto del Mar" below. A preview of all 15 tracks is available on his official Facebook page.
In addition to his solo work, Domingo is widely known for being one-third of The Three Tenors, an operatic supergroup that gained mainstream success and unprecedented viewership when they performed at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles in 1994. The trio – Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras – became something of a pop-culture phenomenon, defying conventional beliefs that opera was a service to the elite. In the 20 years since, the trio's appeal has hardly waned, with millions of copies of the DVD and CD versions of the performance still selling, and a beloved-yet-weird 1996 episode of "Seinfeld" that repeatedly referred to Carreras as "the other guy." They haven't performed together in concert in more than 10 years, and Pavarotti died in 2007.
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