Plácido Domingo on playing Macbeth in L.A. Opera’s season opener
Since he switched to singing baritone roles in his late 60s — an age at which many opera stars have already retired — Plácido Domingo has embarked on a second career of sorts, performing parts in Verdi operas that include “Simon Boccanegra,” “Il Trovatore” and “La Traviata.”
His latest baritone excursion is another Verdi epic, “Macbeth,” which the singer first performed in Berlin last year. Domingo will sing the role for Los Angeles Opera in a new production directed by Tony Award-winner Darko Tresnjak, with performances beginning Sept. 17.
Domingo also serves as the general director of L.A. Opera, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. He has signed to stay on with the company through at least the end of the 2018-19 season. He recently spoke by phone about “Macbeth” and the perennial question of how much longer he plans to keep singing. An edited version of the conversation:
What drew you to the role of Macbeth?
I did it in Berlin and then in Valencia [in Spain]. So I have three productions in a row. It shows my enthusiasm for the role. I’ve been doing baritone roles for five or six years, and Macbeth was one of the parts that I really wished I could sing. I’m not happy to become a villain, but I see this character as a victim of his wife and his thirst for power. It’s an extraordinary work. I was talking to Darko, saying Verdi makes it more dramatic than Shakespeare in a way.
I never thought I would be singing at this age, ever. Ever!
Your first role at L.A. Opera was another Shakespearean part by way of Verdi, “Otello.”
I don’t know what the equivalent is of Otello in the baritone repertoire. I actually think Macbeth is closer to “Simon Boccanegra,” which has a Shakespeare feeling.
You turned 75 this year. You recently told Le Figaro that you have singing engagements booked for three more years. How much longer do you see yourself singing professionally?
I would feel a little strange to be singing when I’m 80 but I cannot assure anything. I never thought I would be singing at this age, ever. Ever! What I can say is this: Opera is tiring, so maybe I will be singing but maybe only in concerts, but I cannot assure anything.
You’ve led L.A. Opera since 2003. What’s your future with the company?
I told to them maybe it’s better to have new blood, but they have asked me to continue. So I said as long as you don’t get tired of me and I can do the job. You need energy. Maybe if I’m working less, I can be more and more involved. Let’s see what will happen. I’m so happy to have formed a serious company. It is admired by all artists. It’s a company that is really a family. My dream is to do seven or eight productions [per season], and maybe at the turn of the decade we can go back to eight or nine productions.
You recently shot a cameo role for Amazon’s comedy series “Mozart in the Jungle.”
They told me about the show and I thought it was amazing. A friend of mine was close to the producers and they talked to [actor] Gael [Garcia Bernal]. I had a lot of fun. It was a short thing. It was in Venice [Italy]. I only shot one day but it was until 4 in the morning.
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