Watching the 1984 movie version of Bizet’s Carmen starring Placido Domingo is probably the best way to give opera a try. It’s a good movie qua movie, and Carmen of course has some of the catchiest songs among all operas. Carmen is more like an American musical than most operas, where, frustratingly, the best hook is only used once, maybe twice. In Carmen, however, the good tunes are pounded on, over and over:
I never saw the late Luciano Pavarotti live, so Domingo is the biggest opera star I’ve ever seen — in Chicago Lyric’s productions of Carmen and Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah. As a singer, he was a natural baritone forcing his way up to tenor roles, but unlike a lot of opera singers, he was a big rugged-looking guy who could act. If he couldn’t sing, he probably would have been a movie star in sword and sandal films.
He had a great career, playing almost all the big roles except Don Giovanni, being a regular at the World Cup in his Three Tenors act, and getting the Los Angeles Opera off the ground.
But now that he’s 78 he’s been Canceled.
Advice for Latin Lovers: don’t get old. Women you slept with will decide that because you’re creepy old now, it had to have been rape back when you were 44.
Heather Mac Donald in Quillette has more.