Review: Domingo oozes power in Christchurch

19:47, Oct 06 2011
Katherine Jenkins
CAPTIVATING CALL: Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins holds the audience in her hands during last night's performance.
Placido Domingo
SOUTHERN SONG: Tenor Placido Domingo commanded the stage at the CBS Canterbury Arena.
Chris Doig
CONCERT ORGANISER: Southern Opera Trust chairman Chris Doig invited Placido Domingo to Christchurch. He was praised for making last night's sold out show possible.
Placido Domingo
OPERA SUPERSTAR: Placido Domingo had a voice as warm as his heart while performing in Christchurch last night .

Placido may be 70 but he still has what it takes.

His is, quite obviously, not a young man's voice but from his first phrase, shaped and polished like a jewel, this concert was going to be a treat.

That whole first aria, O Souverain from Massenet's Le Cid, was a model, with every phrase oozing expressive power and coloured to perfection. With his vast experience, maestro Domingo knows just what his voice is doing and just how far it can be pushed. This he never misjudged.

I find both his English and German less than persuasive, with unidiomatic vowels and unnatural placements of emphasis, but no item on the programme was other than warm and opulent, and utterly charming. In the two items of zarzuela, on the other hand, he was right inside the music to the extent that it is hard to imagine them ever being sung better.

By comparison, Katherine Jenkins sounded monochrome, but I accept that that is a very tough comparison to make. I enjoyed the gypsy song from Carmen and the Tonight duet from West Side Story, but found her Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix just a bit too passive.

However, her communication with the audience and with Domingo was superb, and all their duets were most impressive.

The NZSO National Youth Orchestra played their hearts out and offered a very professional supporting sound, though through the amplifiers, it is hard to know who was doing what.

Their director, Peter Walls, conducted orchestral excerpts from Carmen, which really came to life.

Watching the concert on big screens and listening to it through speakers, both unavoidable in such a vast venue, was a bit like being in the fanzone when you really wanted to be at the match itself. With the music, then, there was little to fault; the inadequacies of the arena as a concert venue, it's hard to know where to begin.

Placido Domingo and Katherine Jenkins, with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra conducted by Eugene Kohn, at the CBS Canterbury Arena, Thursday,  October 6 at 8pm.


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