This is the title of Placido Domingo’s new CD. Spanish Coplas are passionate and fiery songs that often tell the story of a woman’s life; frequently blighted by the behaviour of an unfaithful man. The songs were hugely popular during the 40s and 50s, and now they are back in fashion, often appearing in the Spanish pop charts. Still in amazingly good voice, Domingo sings these highly emotional songs as if he really believes in them, their sometimes melodramatic scenarios lacking nothing except understatement. For example’…you know in this world there’s nothing for me but you, if I’m lying, may my eyes never see light again. I’d count the grains of the sand in the sea for you! I’d commit murder for you! And if I’m lying to you, may God strike me down, lock me up in chains and even kill me, throw handfuls of sand into my eyes, kill me with grief, but please love me.’ The fact that here it is a man singing songs often intended for a woman, may remove some of the inherent misogyny.
The words prompt the music but the music is everything, and whilst the words are contemporary the music originates from folk traditions. They remind me of Sicilian folk songs. Domingo describes coplas as ‘mini-operas aimed at touching people deeply’, and that’s how he sings them, with all his artistry but with a simplicity and grace that makes this a most attractive disc. Whereas the songs would normally be sung to the music of acoustic guitars, Domingo is accompanied by the Orquesta de la Communidad de Madrid in arrangements which for me are the only disappointment of the disc. It is published by Deutsche Grammophon,
Domingo continues to defy his age. Now 67, he is due to sing at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden shortly, continues with his new career as conductor and still wants to extend his repertoire of operas which now numbers 130.
He has been singing in Vienna and New York this Spring, and will be in Barcelona this month; conducting in Paris and Los Angeles in June. This new CD is one of several recently published and there are no doubt others to come. His website tells us that he hasn’t stopped working since he was sixteen years old and that the more he travels, studies and performs, the more fulfilled he feels. His ‘good health and stamina’ have allowed him ‘to be on the go all the time’… to our great pleasure and enrichment!
* there are two other postings on Domingo in this series, namely 18/08/05 and 29/01/07