With a relatively obscure opera and the biggest opera star on the planet, no one really cares about appreciating Cyrano. It's all about assessing Placido Domingo's performance. Does he still have it? Can he still fake an ardent young musketeer? Is this is last visit up here? Domingo is nearly seventy, and has nothing to prove. He is leading, as general director, the opera houses in L.A. and D.C. He has yet another career as a conductor. And he is the most prolific tenor of history, having sung about 130 roles over his 40 years career. That is absolutely insane. Once a regular visitor to the SF stage, he hasn't been here in nearly twenty years, we had to chase him in New York to see him last. His run with SF Opera in Alfano's Cyrano is of course sold out.
We saw the performance on Wednesday night, and Domingo still delivers big time. He's front and center in the opera, and if the voice has lost some of its heft, it still brings out pure emotions. One feels that Domingo does pick his spots, and knows where to cruise and when to give his all. It's like Michael Jordan in his Wizards period, when experience replaced athleticism. And for color and tone, Domingo still rules. The stage director, Petrika Ionesco dispensed him to actually do any real fencing or physical exertion, and he's not a super nimble Cyrano. But his acting conveys both Cyrano's death defying panache and his doomed love and despair. The only serious misstep in the direction is a poorly lit final scene where his hat obscures his face for too long. Don't hide your star, please.