It’s always been a dream of mine to see Plácido Domingo in concert.
I grew up loving Opera thanks to the “Three tenors”, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, who had made the genre so much more popular and accessible by their exceptional concert crowning an exciting FIFA World Cup in Italy in 1990. Their passion and their skill must have inspired millions. I was definitely one of those inspired. I followed their prodigious activity, watched concerts and documentaries and listened to Opera music regularly. It never ceases to amaze me: the entire spectrum of human emotion and experience is covered in musical pieces of exquisite beauty: an immeasurable source of pure joy.
And gratitude. For these wonderfully gifted people who dedicate their lives to spreading the magic of music.
Watching Plácido Domingo talking about his various performances and describing his roles teary eyed, with so much insight, depth and intensity is an experience in itself. His relationship with music, with his audiences and with his own destiny is unique and inspiring. He strikes me as someone able to transcend the immediate and thus give both music and his own interpretation of it an almost spiritual power.
Every time I watch one of his performances or interviews I experience that exquisite, elusive feeling – of being in the presence of a Master. Of being inspired by someone who has dedicated their entire life – every hour of every day – to their art, to music in this case: to making music available, spreading the positive message of communion and harmony… and touching the souls of millions of people around the world in the process.
I was privileged to see Plácido Domingo’s live performance this summer in The Roman Theatre of Orange, France: a 2000 years old Antique Theatre, the best preserved in Europe and a World Heritage site. A venue that also happens to host the oldest French festival, Les Chorégies d’Orange , started in 1869 and celebrating 150 years of uninterrupted activity this year. A true temple of Music – a fitting venue for a Maestro.
That night the 9000 seating capacity theatre was full.
Whilst visiting the theatre earlier in the day I sat on the old stones contemplating what it must have looked like, and sounded like and felt like…all those years ago…and throughout the centuries. I had recently been thinking about our ability to anchor individual experience in eternity (I am currently working on my new book, “Living in Eternity”) and I could not help but allow myself to conjure all those layers of history and human experience and embrace them in my present awe and gratitude…to make it my small contribution to this universal sharing. A moment of transcendence.
Now, that the night had come, I could feel the level of emotion and anticipation expanding and growing all around me. A normal yet exceptional concert evening, full of promise and excitement; long, friendly queues patiently forming in front of the multiple entrances. Then, once in, having conquered the abrupt and impressive ancient stairs, as powerful and inscrutable as ever, who had seen it all…from tragedy to triumph and everything in between…people were taking their seat, chatting, connecting, enjoying a special night out. Oh…and so much more than that. Unknowingly, perhaps, they were getting ready for another sacred celebration of Music, adding another layer in eternity…creating another perfect present worthy of revisiting for all those generations to come.
The Maestro’s entrance on the stage was, in so many ways, a true reflection of his character. All alone, advancing steadily, his steps measured, his demeanour humble and almost discreet…here he was, smiling, his arms open, with his usual generosity and grace, fully aware of both the impact of his presence on his audience, and the crucial part that the audience has played in his own destiny.
I remember this particular moment vividly – because I anchored it consciously – in eternity. I was eagerly anticipating his entrance – and then it happened, almost by surprise, simple, yet powerful. Past, present and future, all merging into the present moment: a moment of pure sharing; proof that life can be lived beautifully, totally, in service of what we love and in service of others.
Surely, for all those present, the night was special. Not necessarily because, like me, they made a conscious effort to stay aware of, and enhance its significance, but because it was made special by Domingo’s presence, by his aura, his love for music and his unquenched desire to pass on the love, to support the other artists and to seduce the audience on Music’s behalf. A warm summer night, moon and stars joining in the celebration, thousands of hearts beating in unison and a shared feeling of pure joy.
For me, above all else, a lesson in how to live one’s life. A crash course teaching anyone paying attention how to touch millions of hearts, leave a wonderful legacy and create perfect moments worthy of being stored, and frequently revisited, in Eternity.
Such is the gift of being in the presence of a Master – time expands and space shrinks…and simple shared moments take on the mantle of initiation.