Standing room only at the Proms for Domingo and Wagner
Managers at the Royal Albert Hall are predicting queues round the block from those desperate to secure one of the 1,400 standing tickets that become available on Monday for Placido Domingo in Die Walküre, part of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
All seats for the concert performance of the Covent Garden production were sold by the end of the priority booking period. Indeed, one in 15 advance bookers requested tickets only for Domingo out of the entire series of more than 70 Proms concerts over two months.
Nicholas Kenyon, the BBC's controller of the Proms, said it was "almost pure luck" that he had been able to secure the singer for the concerts, which began last night. He said: "We'd been thinking for a while what the right project was for Domingo because he was keen to come."
Mr Kenyon had been planning a Proms Ring Cycle for years. Sir Simon Rattle conducted the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Das Rheingold, the first instalment, last year and Domingo's three performances in the second part, Die Walküre, at Covent Garden happened to coincide with the opening of the 2005 Proms. "It was a really happy coming together. This was a perfect thing for him to do for us," Mr Kenyon said.
James Jolly, editor of Gramophone magazine, said it was wonderful that "a real operatic megastar" was at the Proms. Luciano Pavarotti has appeared in only one Prom, with Glyndebourne opera in 1964, and the other of the Three Tenors, Jose Carreras, has performed in a Prom in the Park. Mr Jolly added: "For the Opera House to bring in their frontline glitzy production, directed by their musical director Antonio Pappano, is fantastic. That's a just cause for queues. I'm sure Domingo would say in his typically modest way that it's a company and I suspect there's some truth in that. Pappano conducting Die Walküre without Domingo would probably still have them queuing around the block. But it is wonderful. In his career, Domingo's done so many amazing things that this is just one more feather in a cap that is thick with them but it it must be thrilling for a performer to appear at the Proms. We'll probably witness the ultimate adulation anyone can experience on Monday."
Mr Kenyon said the Proms audience was driven to book as much by the music as star performers. Major names such as Valery Gergiev invariably sell out, but this year one quick seller has been a concert with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in a programme including Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams.
The hot tickets
* 23-24 July. BBC Philharmonic - popular classics
* 23 July. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic- Mendelssohn's 'Hebridean Overture', Bruch's Violin Concerto, Vaughan Williams's 'Sea Symphony'
* 27 August. World Orchestra for Peace - Rossini, Debussy, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Scheherazade'
* 31 August. Cleveland Orchestra - Beethoven's 'Missa Solemnis'
* 1 September. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - Mahler's Symphony No 6
* 8 September. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - Bruckner's Symphony No 8
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