She in her turn recalls seeing him in Otello at the Mariinsky in the '80s. "After the show, I'll never forget hundreds of people storming the stage! Past all the guards! And Placido stood there, barefoot, in a nightshirt - the closing scene of Otello takes place in Desdemona's bedroom - and calmly signed autographs. It was horrendously cold, it went on forever, but he had a look and a word for everyone. Phenomenal."
Kaufmann - I think the only reason why there are tenor jokes is that we tenors can handle them well. The baritones can't.
Domingo - Tenors are what the viola players are to the orchestra. Someone has to be a lightning rod.
Kaufmann - There are more baritones. A really good baritone is therefore just about the best of the best. A tenor can be just a voice and nothing else. As a tenor you can have a career that would probably not be possible for a baritone.
Domingo - If Franco Corelli cancelled Tosca, then Carlo Bergonzi, Richard Tucker, Giacomo Aragall, Sándor Kónya and Luciano Pavarotti were ready to stand in. And what about today when Jonas is sick? I couldn't take over any longer. In Verdi and Puccini in fact I see a desert. So you have to be nice to Jonas and treat him very well.
Giovanna d'Arco - Felsenreitschule, 13 August 2013
Verdi's version of the Joan of Arc story may differ from the one you learned at school. For operatic purposes, the Maid of Orleans stirs the loins of the King of France. Believing she has reciprocated, her shamed father betrays her to the English enemy and denounces her as a witch. Sentenced to the stake, she escapes with her remorseful father's aid, only to die in battle. Or almost, pending a brief mid-funeral revival. You can see why nobody dares to stage it.
Alongside the Riemann hypothesis and the existence of God, one great question remains unanswered.
How old is Plácido Domingo?
Rumours have long circulated. Has the legendary baritenor, who claims, like Gheorghiu, to have started college at the age of 14, shaved a year or five off his age? His official birth date is 21 January 1941, making him 72.
Van Dam was born on 25 August 1940, so he would have been 31 in 1971. Yet Plácido's eldest grandchild, the actress and Playboy modelIvonne Armant wasn't born until 16 January 1974, when Van Dam was not 31 but 33. To complicate matters further, paternity wasn't initially acknowledged. Plácido's first 'official' grandchild arrived at a later date, when Van Dam was even older. No-one would question the veteran bass's honesty. But perhaps the passage of time has clouded his memory. It does seem unlikely that his conversation with Domingo could have taken place at the time he recalls, however old Domingo is.
So the mystery remains unsolved. As ever, it seems nothing short of cutting Plácido in half and counting the rings will provide an answer.
Poor Placido Domingo. What a way to make a role debut. On top of one of the ugliest and least comprehensible productions of all time, he had to contend with clouds of swirling sand and what looked like a bad case of backache. Being, legendarily, the type that puts up and shuts up, there were no pre-show excuses, no indulgences sought. Leave that sort of thing to Generation Pantywaist; Placido is a soldier.
The ROH officially revealed full details of their 2013-14 season this morning. As most had slipped out one way or the other already, there are only one or two surprises - not all of them welcome.
There are seven new productions, and in celebration of Richard Strauss's 150th birthday there are three of his operas.
The most exciting new production, long-known, is Stefan Herheim's Les Vepres Siciliennes, conducted by Antonio Pappano and featuring Marina Poplavskaya, Erwin Schrott, Michael Volle and the inevitable Bryan Hymel.
Claus Guth's Die Frau Ohne Schatten comes fresh(ish) from La Scala with Johan Botha, Emily Magee, Michaela Schuster and Johan Reuter, and is conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
A new (to Covent Garden) Robert Carsen Carmelites conducted by Simon Rattle features Magdalena Kozena and Anna Prohaska.
Star-wise, Juan Diego Florez is back in La fille du régiment, this time with
Patrizia Ciofi, Ewa Podles - and future Downton Abbey star Dame Kiri te
Manon Lescaut features Jonas Kaufmann, together with Kristine Opolais and Christopher Maltman. There's a Faust revival with Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenlyside. Joyce DiDonato reprises her Maria Stuarda in a new Leiser/Caurier production, with Carmen Giannattasio and Charles Castronovo. Karita Mattila makes her return to Covent Garden in Keith Warner's splendid Wozzeck, also featuring Simon Keenlyside, and Christof Loy's Ariadne auf Naxos, with Jane Archibald and Ruxandra Donose.
To compensate for his multiple London no-shows perhaps, Jonas Kaufmann also gives a main stage recital on 6 April.
Conductor wise, the major shock is that baritenor Placido Domingo will be let loose on Tosca.