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September 27, 2009

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Singers relight Olympic flame

SPANISH tenor Placido Domingo and the Grammy-nominated Chinese soprano Song Zuying performed the song "Flame of Love" at the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

And they rekindled their union last week at Shanghai Grand Stage, singing the "Flame of Love" in Domingo's Shanghai concert.

The 68-year-old Domingo enjoys an enviable reputation largely through his peerless association with two other tenors - Jose Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007). This week's concert was his third in Shanghai.

Domingo is known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range. In March 2008, he debuted in his 128th opera role.

In addition to his singing, he has also taken on conducting opera and concert performances, as well as being general director of the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera.

Domingo is the only "three kings of the singers" active on the world stage. His schedule includes more than 40 concerts each year.

Q: Your health was not very good three months ago. How do you feel now?

A: I feel so lucky to be back on stage. It makes me feel the sun is even shinier and I am more energetic.

Q: What's necessary to be an excellent singer?

A: A good singer needs a good voice and natural talent. They should know how to protect the voice and how to perform.

Opera artists should be fully prepared for the performance, including language, movement on stage and understanding the roles.

Performing artists have to sacrifice a lot for their career, especially many female artists.

They have to be separated from their families and children for a long time because of the overseas performing schedules.

Q: What's your favorite Chinese song? Why does it attract you?

A: I like songs such as "In That Distant Place" and "Kangding Love Song" (also called "On the Horse Racing Hill"). The songs have very beautiful melodies.

Q: You have collaborated with Song Zuying many times and this time in Shanghai was the fourth so what is so special?

A: I was deeply impressed by Song's concert in the Vienna Golden Hall.

I am the artistic director of Los Angeles Opera House and I hope I can invite her to perform there one day.

Q: Have you ever had differences of opinion during your collaboration?

A: No, never. Song has a perfect voice with strong expression. It doesn't need any improvements.

I appreciate her performing and enjoy her songs. She can even sing operas. Her voice can deliver never-ending surprises.

Q: You've had many roles in your career, as singer, conductor and artistic director. How do you stay energetic?

A: I am a person who starts well and ends well. When I start a work, it cannot be stopped and I will hold on to the end. I also tell myself that I will sing until one day I can not sing any more.

Q: You have a plan to help young artists. What is the impetus of this project?

A: I hold the Domingo International Opera Competition and there are more and more voices from China showing up in the competition, including sopranos, baritones and tenors.

Many of the winners are Chinese.

I am so glad to see that and it feels very meaningful to help young artists develop their career.


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