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Domingo tops Royal Opera's program

BRITAIN'S Royal Opera House has recruited tenor Placido Domingo to help ride out the recession next season with a historic double in which he sings tenor in Handel's "Tamerlano" and baritone in Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra."

The Spanish singer marks his 26th role with the opera house when he appears in Tamerlano in March 2010 and debuts as a baritone at the Covent Garden venue in Simon Boccanegra three months later.

"I have felt very much at home at Covent Garden ever since I first appeared there in 1971 and I am a great admirer of (music director) Tony Pappano and his accomplishments with the Royal Opera," Domingo said yesterday as the season was announced.

"It will be a joy for me to return there next season and present my two most recent roles to the London public."

With a reputation for expensive ticket prices and high production costs, the Royal Opera House is braced for a tough season in 2009-10.

But despite planning the repertoire before the global financial crisis struck, it stuck to the original program.

"There are a lot of opera houses all over the world with big decisions about having to change repertoires," Pappano said. "We felt that was, for us, not the way to go."

Royal Opera House Chief Executive Tony Hall said the company's reputation could suffer if audiences felt it was taking less risks and resorting to tried and tested hits.

But he was cautious about the future, saying ticket prices would not be raised at the start of next season and that they would be reviewed every three months.


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