From left, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Ana María Martínez, Plácido Domingo and Jordi Bernàcer appeared in a sold-out concert at the War Memorial Opera House. (Courtesy Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera)

SF Opera hosts Plácido Domingo in enchanting lovefest

San Francisco’s long love affair with opera superstar Plácido Domingo, which began in 1969 with his debut here as Rodolfo in “La Boheme,” continued Sunday afternoon when San Francisco Opera presented the seemingly ageless legendary performer in a highly satisfying and passion-filled program of works by Verdi and Spanish composers.

The concert opened with Spanish conductor Jordi Bernàcer guiding the orchestra through the Prelude to Verdi’s “La Traviata” with tenderness and sensible pacing, delivered (along with verve when needed) throughout the performance, which proceeded into Act 2, Scene 1 of the same opera.

Domingo, 77, long one of opera’s most renowned tenors, took an improbable turn into the baritone repertoire in 2009, and in Sunday’s excerpt, he reprised the role of Alfredo Germont’s father Giorgio Germont. Domingo’s paternal concern came across with an extra measure of empathy for Alfredo, the attractively florid and ardent-voiced tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz, who has sung the part in Rome, Moscow and Washington, D.C.

Domingo’s voice, as hale and big as ever, has colorings and weight of a tenor. Witnessing his exchange with Violetta Valéry (smooth-voiced soprano Ana María Martínez), concert-goers could be forgiven if they saw and heard in Domingo some of Alfredo’s ardor dressed in his father’s clothes.

Scenes from Act 2 of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” followed. Domingo again assumed the title baritone role, displaying the necessary fatherly chops but with a tenor-like quality as the Doge of Genoa, whose daughter Amelia Grimaldi is love with his enemy Gabriele Adorno (a role Domingo also knows well). Martínez as Amelia and Chacón-Cruz as Adorno were appealingly effective; their trio with Domingo at the end was resplendent.

The singers’ ornate accounts of arias from the Spanish light-operetta genre, zarzuela, made up the concert’s second half. Domingo, born in Spain; Martinez, from Puerto Rico, and Mexican-born Chacón-Cruz showed the requisite lyricism and zeal for these works.

With the exception of a lovely orchestral rendition of de Falla’s well-known “Farruca” from “El Sombrero de Tres Picos” tucked in between, the lovely arias by Giménez, Soutullo, Vert, Luna, Serrano, Sorozábal and Moreno Torroba — rarely performed in this country — got a great audience reception. It’s conceivable that zarzuelas could have a stateside following, particular here in the Bay Area, home to many Spanish speakers.

Domingo, Chacón-Cruz and Martínez encored with stirring arias by Serrano, Torroba and Lecuona. In the last work, Velasquez’s romantic “Besame mucho,” the trio shared the love with the audience, and Domingo beckoned the smitten, obliging crowd to join in.
Ana Maria-MartinezArturo Chacón-CruzClassical MusicJordi BernàcerPlácido DomingoSerranoSimon BoccanegraTorrobaTraviataVerdi

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School district, teachers reach tentative agreement on distance learning

With less than two weeks until the start of the school year,… Continue reading

Boudin, Gascon defend NFL in controversy over Stephon Clark video

Public service announcement prompted pushback from California prosecutors association

Retired officers seek end to decade-old age discrimination case

Retired officer Juanita Stockwell was 60 when she and her colleagues first… Continue reading

San Francisco schools estimate $25m needed to close digital divide

Private donations being sought to fund internet access, technology

State officials sue Uber and Lyft for wage theft

California Labor Commissioner’s Office alleges ride-hail companies violating AB5

Most Read