PLÁCIDO DOMINGO AT VERONA
JOHN WILLIAMS - VIENNA PHILHARMONIC GALA
This live performance took place in the huge Verona Amphitheater in 2020. Because of Covid 19, the audience was limited, but enthusiasm was high. Domingo had first appeared in the Verona Festival fifty years ago when he was only 28. Apparently he has appeared there every year since. Called "the king of opera," the famous tenor has sung virtually all of opera's roles for tenor including modern repertory. He also has recorded many of then, sometimes multiple times. For two decades he was considered to be the definitive Othello. Four of his performances are on DVD, perhaps the finest is the 1996 Met performance with Renée Fleming as Dessdemona, James Levine on the podium (REVIEW). His artistry set the standard for other tenors. In the last few years as his voice aged, he began to focus on baritone roles never losing the rich quality of his voice. It is as a baritone that he is featured on this exciting new DVD in operatic and zarzuela excerpts. He sings the role of Giorgio Germont in La traviata rather than the role of Alfredo as he did in the past. He is joined by Spanish soprano Soila Hernandez (b. 1979 in Madrid). Her voice is rich and controlled. This is her second Verona appearance; previously she has sung Tosca. She and Domingo are an exciting pair, as at home in the Verdi and Giordano scenes as they are in the Spanish encores. The huge orchestra is first-class, and conductor Jordi Bernacer could not be bettered. Audio is wonderful, equally fine is video. The engineers have done a superb job in providing a rich well-balanced sound picture. The program lasts only 85 minuets. It is unfortunate a few more works were not included. But if you admire Domingo, you must have his latest video.
There was a special evening in Vienna's famous Musikverein Concert Hall in January 2020. This magnificent venue, home to Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner and all other historic composers, was the site of a special concert honoring John Williams. No specific date it given but I cannot imagine there was only one performance. The hall was packed with enthusiastic music lovers and it wa a gala event. Williams masterfully conducted the great Vienna Philharmonic in many of his best-known and most exciting scores, with special soloist violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, looking vy glamorous. What a pleasure it is to hear this familiar music played by the full forces of the VPO, which obviously was having a great time. Those brass fanfares have never before sounded as stupendous. Audio and video are firs-rate. A bonus is an audio only convsation between Williams and Mutter. This is an exciting releaser!
R.E.B. (July 2021)