The audience at the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Adriana Lecouvreur last night was far from its usual loud self. On the contrary, it was perfectly silent the whole evening. The one detected no-no was an overabundance of flash photography during curtain calls, but for once the nazi-ushers (I say that lovingly, of course) didn't cry out for "no photographs in the house!" Instead, they let the audience wallow in the greatness that was the presence of Placido Domingo and to bestow onto him every compliment and gesture of adoration we could muster.
In what was probably his final performance as Maurizio ever, Placido Domingo sang and acted as if he didn't have 40 years under his belt, but was still in his primmest prime. He doesn't put on airs, he does not act as if he is on top of the world (which he is, by the way), but he acts as he has always done: like the character he is playing. Acting like a dashing young prince can be difficult when you're an almost-70 [still dashing] king of opera, but it isn't hard to imagine any woman falling in love with Placido Domingo even when it is hard to imagine him riding into battle.
40 years ago Domingo debuted in this role opposite the illustrious Renata Tebaldi. Last night his final Adriana was Maria Guleghina who, despite what I have heard about her pushing, gave a wonderful vocal and dramatic performance. Olga Borodina was, as usual, the cool mezzo that she is, a worthy Princess to Domingo's probably intimidating Prince of Saxony. Her husband, played by John Del Carlo, was imposing and comic, towering over his colleagues and providing well needed comic relief. Roberto Frontali really stood out as Michonnet, the real tragic character in this opera, his powerful and beautiful voice that became the icing on this already stunning operatic cake.
What could possibly have been going through Domingo's mind last night as he stepped on to the stage? Could he have seen himself, 40 years younger, nerves bouncing off the wall, beside one of the greatest sopranos of all time? Could he have been reliving those glorious moments of his debut at the Met? Or is it possible that he didn't think of his debut at all, thinking only of the performance ahead and going over in his mind his endless knowledge of opera, its characters, and finding exactly what he needed for Maurizio?
Oh, Domingo, the world may never know.
Happy Listening! =)