On July 7, 2006, the Waldbuehne amphitheatre in Berlin was host to the greatest voices of their day as more than 20,000 spectators gathered to hear Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, and Placido Domingo in an open-air concert celebrating the close of the Wo
Sparks fly in this video of the all-star concert from Berlin's equivalent of the Hollywood Bowl in July 2006, part of the World Cup festivities. The electricity is generated by the all-star trio of tenors Placido Domingo and Rolando Villazon and soprano Anna Netrebko in a program of operatic and vocal favorites. The crowd estimated at 20,000 eats it all up, and so will home viewers who'll relish the prospect of great singers performing great music.
Domingo is his usual self, still remarkable at an age when most tenors have called it quits. He sings with intensity and a voice undimmed by the passing of time. Domingo's duets with his partners are notable for his acute phrasing, the highlights being the first-act love duet from Verdi's Otello with Netrebko's gorgeous lyric Desdemona and the ravishing duet with Villazon from Bizet's The Pearlfishers, in which he takes on the baritone role. Netrebko seems slightly stiff at first but loosens up as the evening progresses, but she's in excellent voice, with luminous pianissimos most sopranos wish they could emulate. Her Puccini arias are beautifully sung, and she even offers a Franz Lehar aria and a charmingly accented duet, "Tonight," from West Side Story with Villazon. But if anyone can be said to steal the show it's Villazon, a singer in perpetual motion, who brings the house down with a version of Rossini's La Danza full of dash and brio. There's a lot more, from Spanish songs to arrangements of the Brindisi from La traviata and Lehar's featuring all three singers, with the tenors dividing their lines between to woo the soprano. These are part of the scintillating encore set--good fun that has the audience panting for more.
Expert accompaniments are by the Orchestra of the Deutschen Opera of Berlin under the baton of conductor Marco Armiliato, who also offers several well-shaped operatic overtures and intermezzos and joins in the fun during the unbuttoned encores. Too bad the video direction doesn't match the on-stage proceedings. The production team apparently suffers from camera nervosa, the cameras swooping above the scene, then to floor level, now up, now down, now in close-up, now in long shot, searching for novelty while distracting from the music. There are also misjudged cuts, jumps, and angles. This hyperactivity doesn't seriously mar enjoyment but it is a blemish on a terrific concert. --Dan Davis