‘Plácido Domingo wished to be each a saint and a superman’: how an unrepeatable assortment of characters modified opera ceaselessly | Tradition

Again in 2003, when Spanish journalist Jesús Ruiz Mantilla left the house of Luciano Pavarotti, the world got here crashing down on him. He didn’t know what to do: he wanted to speak to somebody reliable and inform them what had simply occurred in his interview with the legendary tenor. He hadn’t managed to get a tragic headline, nor a very good testimony or a single attention-grabbing revelation. Worst of all, the legend had fallen asleep through the dialog.

Upon listening to this story, Carlos Boyero – a movie critic at EL PAÍS – couldn’t cease laughing. The incident was hilarious. The 2 males realized that the easiest way to write down the article was to inform the whole lot precisely because it had occurred. Lastly, what was going to be simply one other piece within the newspaper grew to become the duvet story. And what at first appeared like a failed interview grew to become one of many nice successes of Ruiz Mantilla’s journalistic profession.

This story is now a part of Divos – a group of profiles of opera singers whom Ruiz Mantilla, 58, has interviewed all through his profession as a musical chronicler. In these pages, evaluation and private reminiscences are intermingled, protecting three generations of artists, starting from Teresa Berganza to Cecilia Bartoli to the Three Tenors. “Trying again, I spotted that I had the chance to talk with the perfect opera singers of the time,” displays the journalist and creator, whereas sipping his beer.

There are 25 names that completely outline opera within the early-Twenty first century. “An ultra-golden age of the artwork,” in accordance with Ruiz Mantilla. “Once we look again, we notice that by no means earlier than have so many individuals gone to the opera, nor have there been so many high quality singers in world phrases, who come from locations the place nice abilities didn’t historically come from.”

The geopolitics of operatic singing has shifted over the previous century. The creator highlights two nice quarries: Latin America – from which figures akin to Juan Diego Flórez, Rolando Villazón and Julián Camarena have emerged – and Japanese Europe, the birthplace of Anna Netrebko, Sonya Yonheva and Ermonela Jaho.

Since he started his profession as a musical chronicler, he has subconsciously been asking himself what the phrase divine means to individuals. “Everybody lives and coexists with divinity, [in terms of] one thing intimate and meditated,” he writes within the e book. Initially, the divos have been a choose group of artists associated to divinity. “A divo is somebody who makes a distinction on stage. The one you’ll be able to’t look away from for a second, as a result of he’s telling you a narrative that goes straight to your coronary heart.” The divos have been marked by greatness, but in addition by fragility.

“They’re obsessive about fragility, as a result of they’ve the instrument inside their our bodies,” the author explains. “They’re at all times fearful about avoiding chilly locations, consuming heat issues – nothing can have an effect on their throats. They’re frightened of getting into a spot with air con or heating. They don’t smoke, they drink reasonably and, basically, they take excellent care of themselves.”

There are singers who proceed to make you recall the time period divo or diva, “akin to Cecilia Bartoli or Javier Camarena.” Nonetheless, there are others who degenerate or pervert it. “From the time of the castrati till right this moment, some [opera singers] have been insufferable, capricious, contemptuous and depressing. That’s the other which means of the phrase,” he insists. “The phrase ‘divine’ has additionally shifted to [being used] in different fields, to explain the best of rock, film or soccer stars. However there’s a form of antibody on the planet of opera that strongly rejects all of this.”

Ruiz Mantilla factors to the case of the Romanian singer Angela Gheorghiu. “When she crossed the road (by way of how she handled individuals) – utilizing her standing as a diva within the worst approach – she destroyed her profession, to the purpose that nobody wished her within the theater anymore. The operatic framework seeks virtuous divos and divas… she was [supposed] to be the goddess of an age, [but only] lasted 5 years.”

In response to Ruiz Mantilla, it has by no means been so tough to grow to be an opera star as right this moment. “In every period, there’s at all times been a brand new problem to turning into a singer. Maria Callas – aside from singing in an excellent and particular approach – contributed the artwork of theatrical interpretation. The nice divos of right this moment sing splendidly… [but also] act phenomenally. Each has to supply one thing extra [than singing].”

“There are [other singers] who’ve a very good administration of their public profile on social media, along with being open to adapting to the adjustments proposed by stage administrators, who’re the opposite nice opera revolutionaries of the early-Twenty first century.” He additionally warns of the pattern in direction of specialization. “There’ll not be a file holder like Plácido Domingo, who [had a] broad repertoire,” he predicts.

The decline of Plácido Domingo

The chapter devoted to the Madrid tenor – accused of harassing ladies in accordance with the testimonies of at the least 27 individuals – begins with Domingo asking Ruiz Mantilla to vow to not write about him once more. That was again in 1999… and since then, they’ve had a succession of conferences and disagreements, which ultimately ended with a closing reproach: “Why do it’s a must to write this stuff about me? It’s pointless.”

The creator compares Domingo’s decline with Spanish King Juan Carlos I, who, in 2014, abdicated the throne because of a spending scandal. “Each have been legends and each – confronted with the energy of a world inclined to ripping down symbols – don’t perceive their very own falls,” he writes in Divos. He additionally admits that, 20 years in the past, no one may count on an ending like this: “Plácido was a Don Juan, sure, completely… however no one judged him.”

Within the tenor’s biography – written by Rubén Amón – he confesses that “he by no means performed Don Juan [on stage], as a result of he was afraid of seeing himself.” Ruiz Mantilla clarifies: “He mentioned that [Don Juan] appeared like an disagreeable character. That’s a phrase for a psychologist.”

He portrays Domingo as an individual obsessive about being appreciated by everybody. “He’s somebody who, at any time when a brand new Pope is elected, the very first thing he does is go to hunt his blessing,” the journalist notes. In his opinion, works such because the biography that Walter Isaacson wrote about Steve Jobs, or The Crown sequence portraying Queen Elizabeth II are proof that, right this moment, myths are extolled based mostly on individuals’s best weaknesses. “That’s what Plácido by no means understood – that by brazenly exhibiting all of your miseries and your fears, you spotlight your virtues.”

The tenor had, in accordance with the creator, “an aspiration to be holy.” He wished to be the whole lot. “It’s incompatible to wish to be each the Nietzschean superman and the saint of the sacred scriptures.” Ruiz Mantilla guidelines out that Domingo felt responsible after listening to the testimony of the victims. “If he ever requested for forgiveness, it [was because] he didn’t wish to harm his picture. However I don’t suppose he feels responsible about something.”

Ruiz Mantilla witnessed the stay live performance that Domingo gave in Salzburg, Austria, solely 12 days after the accusations have been made public. “It was one of the spectacular moments I’ve ever skilled.” He describes it as “a struggle of mentalities” between Europeans and North Individuals. “With that indifference that characterizes the [Austrian] public, they appeared to say: ‘Who’re these nouveau riche to come back and inform us who’s worthy on the planet of opera?’” It doesn’t matter what occurred, the general public applauded and defended the tenor. “He performed a task during which he was defending his honor always. The whole lot he sang was an emotional and private state, embodied in a personality. He sang with a rage to vindicate himself… it didn’t matter if it sounded good or unhealthy.”

After a long time coping with these operatic characters, Ruiz Mantilla recommends confronting them like another interviewee: “Attempt to delve into their contradictions, their darkish sides and their doubts, exactly in order that they present their weaknesses and might reveal themselves to be extra human.”

It was harder for him with Luciano Pavarotti, whom he may solely meet when the tenor had already grow to be a caricature of himself. “It made me particularly unhappy to have to do this. As a result of, to me, [he had the best voice] of all time. On this world, there’s a advantage in realizing when to retire.”

Enroll for our weekly publication to get extra English-language information protection from EL PAÍS USA Version

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles