December 7, 2006


Domingo Booed In ‘Bohème' (FRED KIRSHNIT, December 7, 2006, NY Sun)

Placido Domingo was roundly and vociferously booed at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday evening.

Take a moment to let that statement sink in.

The occasion was the one and only appearance of Anna Netrebko as Mimi in the Met's current run of Giacomo Puccini's "La Bohème." [...]

Ms. Netrebko was splendid throughout, her Donde lieta usci from Act III producing paroxysms of applause. And this woman really knows how to die. Her voice, enduringly strong even on her deathbed, simply became more and more gentle as her seconds ticked away. Not weaker, not softer, not wobbly, just more gentle until it suddenly stopped and her clenched fist opened and fell. Masterful.

So why the booing during such a wonderful effort? Mr. Domingo's conducting had been the weakest link in the initial performance, and this evening brought his faults to the fore. During Act I, Ms. Netrebko let loose in the Mi chiamano Mimi section, expanding and elongating her phrases to their most delicious and emotionally intense lengths. She did not so much intone these phrases as caress them. In order to fully realize her artistic vision, she allowed each phrase to develop organically, unhurriedly, employing tasteful rubato and holding high notes expertly and impressively. But Mr. Domingo trudged along inattentively at metronomic speed, running noticeably ahead of his diva. As a singer himself, Mr. Domingo should be especially sensitive to poetic and expressive license, but he certainly was deaf to it this night. Ms. Netrebko, however, refused to bend, continuing to fashion her complex and beautifully spun web of gold until Mr. Domingo finally seemed to awaken and allow his orchestra to follow her. By the end of the aria, it was clear the profound leadership was coming not from the pit but from the stage.

And thus the booing. When Mr. Domingo came out for his bow at the beginning of Act Three, the lusty response from the upper reaches of the house was raucously negative. Visibly shaken, he turned to give his first downbeat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 7, 2006 1:29 PM

Maybe it's the reverse of those who can't do, teach. Since he can do (sing), he can't teach (or lead). It behooves the old to move aside for the young, and moving aside, avoid public statements unless they're effusively complimentary.

Posted by: erp at December 7, 2006 2:10 PM

I hate when that happens at the opera

Posted by: mike at December 7, 2006 2:49 PM

Actually, it's just another example of the long-realized truth that conducting, composing and performing are three separate skills and that very, very, very few individuals have been great at all three.

Posted by: Dreadnought at December 7, 2006 4:18 PM

As some one who listens to Poison and AC/DC while doing all my own contracting on my own house, I couldn't help but chuckle at the booing (over which I would have understood nothing)

It is only a matter of time before a virtuoso perfmormance at the Opera will be met with "YOODA MAN!" and "IN THE HOLE!."


expanding and elongating his phrases to their most delicious and emotionally intense lengths. Hedid not so much intone these phrases as caress them.

...this is how I feel about OJ's blogging.

Posted by: Bruno at December 7, 2006 5:21 PM