Placido Domingo – My Christmas
with Vincent Niclo, Idina Menzel, Helene Fischer, Jackie Evancho, Hayley Westenra, Placido Domingo jr.
The Piano Guys
The Voices of Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program
Banda El Recodo
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Richard Balcombe, conductor
If there is ever been a Christmas album recorded by an operatic star that is light and amusing, Placido Domingo’s recording is definitely that one. It is entitled My Christmas, perhaps to stress that this time Domingo stands out as the only leading star and not as a primus inter pares as in the Christmas album he recorded with Pavarotti and Carreras as a member of the “Three Tenors” several years ago. However, My Christmas is not a solo recording and it features many important guest stars, including Vincent Niclo, Helene Fischer, Jackie Evancho and Placido Domingo jr.
The tracklist is composed rather predictably by well-known traditional songs (Silent Night, What Child is This, Astro del cielo and White Christmas among the others), arranged to give prominence to Christmas tinkles and to give the impression of a soft atmosphere. The only piece that seems out of place is Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, but the explanation for this choice is that My Christmas is dedicated to the memory of Domingo’s younger sister, passed away few months before the album’s release.
As for the performances, the only negative aspect is that some of the singers, especially among women, are a little slushy and they are sugary rather than tender. Domingo, however, is far from inelegance. He has already proved with his album Songs that he can sing both operatic and pop music, so that his achievement with My Christmas is not at all unexpected. He is expressive and meaningful and at the same time avoids the temptation to exceed, so that he preserves a prodigious balance. His voice is so warm and rich that its temporary wobbling can be easily excused, especially considering how miraculously his instrument is preserved after such a long career. His solo songs (probably the best is Astro del cielo) are the privileged moments to judge how smooth and soft his phrases are.
My Christmas is a lovely album, showing Placido Domingo in reasonably good shape and surrounded by fine performers that really give the idea of a festive Christmas atmosphere.