I assumed that being invited backstage I would meet Domingo, of course. Plácido Domingo, that is, LA Opera’s Director who also happens to be one of our century’s most talented baritones and was singing the title role in that evening’s performance, I was super excited to get a chance to interview him. I even rehearsed a couple supposedly off-the-cuff questions. My attempts at anything profound resulted in something along the lines of, “How do you like your eggs, Domingo?” Meaning, I really couldn’t think of anything witty.
As I ventured behind the scenes, feeling oh-so-VIP, I quickly realized that my tour would consist of no famous baritones, but rather a brief exchange with the carpentry stage crew.
I approached the set façade. I snapped a couple photos, exchanged some words with the backstage boys, and saw myself out, but not before I happened upon a certain door, with a certain name on it.
My date and I savored a quick glass of wine and took our seats.
Set in 14th century Genoa, Italy, the mise-en-scene start to the piece throws the viewer into a pit of familial turmoil, and Simon Boccanegra, played by the versatile and commanding Domingo, carries the plot. The first Act begins very slowly, so it is no wonder that my date started to nod off. He pretended to be engrossed by the soporific aesthetic of the music, but I smiled to myself as I saw his head teeter. I poked him and he jolted awake. “I was just resting my eyes.”
Intermission espressos were necessary.
Oddly enough, after Verdi wrote this act he took a 25-year hiatus, revived his efforts and lightened the mood. The following acts, subsequently, quicken in pace. The stage comes alive with characters, luscious costumes, voluptuous sets, and a heightened sense of drama. In true Verdi fashion, however, he capitalizes on the expressive power of the opera as an art form. Experimenting with political themes, this piece is ultimately a study of power and betrayal that finds its stirring center in the tender and unrelenting relationship of a father and his daughter.
Following the show, the ensemble was to join the public for a bit of a meet and greet. Anticipation for Director Domingo’s arrival was a bit baroque. Once he arrived, a swarm of frenzied fans (/amateur photographers) overwhelmed him.
My intention was to provide you with a keen critique of the performance, but, ultimately, I found the entire evening’s happenings to be more of an Italian farce than expected.