Vienna, Austria (May 31, 2018)—The third time was the charm for opera superstar Placido Domingo, who traveled to MG Sound recording studios in Vienna, Austria, with producer Gregg Field to complete his contribution to Arturo Sandoval’s Ultimate Duets album, released on May 18.
The Ultimate Duets project began in 2015 and has taken Sandoval and Field to recording studios all over the world. Placido Domingo decided that he wanted to do “Granada.”
“But rather than record it in the way that it’s traditionally been done as a pops orchestra treatment,” Field continues, “he came up with the idea to throw all that out and start as a core with flamenco musicians. For his track, Placido is joined by virtuoso guitarist Vicente Amigo, who Pat Metheny says is the greatest living guitar player.”
Field explains, “We originally set the framework for the arrangement using L.A. studio musicians and then flew to New York to record Placido’s vocal. He sang everything except the last note, a G, which was on the high side for a baritone singer. We did two or three passes of the song, and he kept stopping and not singing the last note. He said, ‘Gregg, I’m so sorry, but I have to sing at The Met tomorrow night, and If I give you that note, it could make things a little difficult for me.'”
Domingo’s next opportunity to finish the track was before a performance in Madrid, Spain, where he met again with Sandoval and Field, who recalls, “Placido got to the last note and he didn’t sing it. He said, ‘Gregg, it’s my 75th birthday. I’m singing 15 songs tomorrow night at the Real Madrid soccer stadium for 71,000 people. I promise I’ll give you the G, but can we do it later?” Field, of course, obliged.
As the album deadline loomed, Domingo and Field finally rendezvoused in at Austria’s MG Sound. Field recalls suggesting, “Placido, what do you think? Why don’t we start at the end?” Domingo laughed and said, “Don’t worry, Gregg, I’m going to sing it all again. I don’t have to sing for another week.”
The opera star spent the next two and a half hours basically “crafting the entire vocal,” says Field. “He knocked out five Gs at the end, and each one was as good as the next, and he was very happy. It’s an incredible vocal—in a league of its own. It was the most difficult track on the entire album, just because of the logistics, and we were basically reinventing the wheel bringing the greatest opera star into the flamenco world.”
After recording Domingo’s vocal in New York City and Madrid, Field concludes, “Honestly, I think the sound we got at MG was my favorite of the three. There was a little bit of a sparkle that we got in Vienna, and I’m glad, because Placido not only wanted to get that elusive G, but to sing the entire vocal again.”
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