Plácido Domingo was announced to sing in a concert to celebrate the Marian Jubileum and to honor the Holy Virgin of La Almudena, who gives her name to the Madrid Cathedral. This was mentioned in the press two weeks ago, and free invitations were given by the Madrid Archdiocese. In few days there were no invitation to deliver. For this occasion, 4000 chairs and 3 big screens were set in the Plaza de la Almudena to follow the concert from the cathedral. Alongside Domingo, the sopranos Raquel Lojendio and Estíbaliz Martyn, the mezzo-soprano Belén Elvira sung in the concert. The Orquesta Filarmonía and its Chorus were conducted by Jordi Bernácer and Pascual Osa.
After a brief address from the Archbishop, the concert began. The program consisted on sacred music, most of it were several famous versions of the Ave Maria, by Schubert, Gounod, Verdi (Otello), Mascagni... but since no program was given by the organisation I couldn't recognise some pieces.
Despite a cold which forced him to cancel a Nabucco performance in Germany after the first part, Mr. Domingo sang beautifully as usual, as much as his cold allowed, which proved to be very much. His voice is still strong, powerful-sounding, and despite the a bit increasing vibrato (consequence of age) he is able to manage his voice to sound always splendid. It's just a miracle, and this is the reason the queuing, the sun and the wind are worthy, to see him again. He opened the concert with the Plegaria by Fernán María Álvarez, and later he sang a moving, powerful rendition of Schubert's Ave Maria. He also sang the Mascagni's version, with the chorus beginning the first stanza, and with him starting in the second. His final song was an arranged version of the famous Verdi's Va' Pensiero chorus from Nabucco, in which the lyrics are changed into a prayer for the Holy Virgin. This was the other great moment of the evening, in which Domingo sang completely devoted to the music, conveying his command of Verdi's music, even in this version.
The other singers did well his part too. Raquel Lojendio gave amazing versions of the Verdi praying arias, La Vergine degli angeli from La Forza del Destino and the Ave Maria from Otello. Her voice has a nice sound, exquisite diction and beautiful high notes. Belén Elvira has a nice mezzo voice, but sadly I couldn't recognise any of the pieces she sang. The soprano Estíbaliz Martyn gave a charming version of Gounod's Ave Maria. The orchestra and chorus sounded correctly, and the oboe had a remarkable sound. Bernácer's conducting of the Verdi arias was the most important orchestral moment. There was a child choir too.
At the end of the concert, all soloists and musicians sang the Hymn to La Almudena. The Archbishop and Domingo gave adresses to thank the audience and to honor the Virgin. After offering flowers to the Holy Virgin, he and the soloists and orchestra went to the square to greet the people who followed the concert outside the cathedral, to receive an outstanding ovation. This was, as a result, a triumphal way to close such a great evening.
My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non English native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
Most of the photographs are from the internet and belong to its authors. My use of them is only cultural. If someone is uncomfortable with their use, just notify it to me.
Any reproduction of my text requires my permission.