Plácido Domingo grew up hearing and singing zarzuela, a semi-popular Spanish light opera form with a history stretching back considerably farther than English or French light opera. His parents were touring zarzuela performers, and he has done much to popularize this form, little known outside of Spain and Latin America, in the English-speaking world. This disc, with texts and notes in Spanish exclusively, isn't going to do much in that regard, but for those who love Domingo and understand the language it's an enjoyable sidelight. It was recorded live in Madrid in 1991, and it features all the accoutrements of an actual concert of zarzuela arias -- orchestral preludes and interludes, a variety of aria types with choruses and influences from different Spanish popular song traditions, and some very enthusiastic Spanish audiences showing the love at the end of each track. The music is all from the early twentieth century, and some of the choruses sound like they could have been written by Arthur Sullivan. Those seeking a real Domingo introduction to the zarzuela should seek out one of his other recordings; with Pilar Lorengar he made a disc of arias and duets for CBS, and for those enamored of the concert format, a Royal Gala Concert video dating from this same period. But the already converted will enjoy this performance from the great tenor, working in a genre he always approached and delivered with love.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim