April 12, 2010 / 2:54 PM / 9 years ago

Tenor Domingo speaks of cancer fear ahead of return

MILAN (Reuters) - Placido Domingo admitted he was scared when he heard he had colon cancer and said he is overjoyed to be able to return to singing in public again at Milan’s La Scala — one of the most challenging operatic venues.

“The joy of returning to Milan is immense ... especially being able, after some fear, to continue my career,” the 69-year-old tenor said Monday before he debuts on April 16.

Domingo will sing the baritone role of Simon Boccanegra in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of the same name at La Scala, whose audiences are renowned for their vocal appreciation — or rejection — of singers.

Ticket prices range from 12 euros to 187 euros and Milan’s opera conoscenti have already bought up almost all available seats. (www.teatroallascala.org)

Domingo, the sole opera performer left of the famed “Three Tenors” after Luciano Pavarotti died of cancer in 2007 and Jose Carreras announced his retirement last year, had surgery to remove a malignant polyp from his colon in New York last month.

“To hear the word tumor certainly scares you,” he told reporters, wearing a blue blazer that looked too big for him.

Domingo exhorted others to take tests for cancer earlier than he did, in order to avoid similar problems.

“I’m making a recommendation to everyone to get the checks ... it only takes half an hour or 40 minutes,” he said.

Regarding his voice, Domingo said he remained a tenor.

He debuted in the baritone role of Boccanegra at London’s Royal Opera House last year. Tenor voices often lower in register as singers grow older.

The singer said he had been asked to record Verdi’s Rigoletto but it would depend on how he felt.

Daniel Barenboim, who will conduct the opera and is also one of the world’s finest pianists, said he was “very happy” to be doing Boccanegra at La Scala.

“For me, it’s a very special occasion. (Domingo is) someone I have admired for many years and also a friend I’ve been close to for many years.”

Reporting by Jo Winterbottom

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