Tenor Placido Domingo’s choice of a programme peppered with local music and help from Mexican pianist and crooner Armando Manzanero may smooth the controversy surrounding his Saturday concert at the Mayan pyramids of Chichen Itza.
The Spanish-born Domingo grew up in Mexico, and for enthusiastic fans in the southern state of Yucatan, the “Concert of 1,000 Columns” is like a homecoming:
One of his first performances was in Yucatan in 1957. The estimated 4,000 fans attending seemed unconcerned about complaints that the concert and others like it exploit or misuse the 1,200-year-old Mayan ruins. The concert’s name is a reference to a temple platform at Chichen Itza crowned by rows of columns. “It is an honour for us to have a concert like this,” said Armando de Leon from the nearby city of Merida.
Herman Segovia came all the way from San Antonio, Texas, to hear Domingo, whom he called “an artist of high quality.” “I don’t think the site will be damaged. This is a controlled event,” Segovia said.
Karen Eddy, originally of Toronto, Canada, travelled to the concert from her current home in Mexico City because “I though it would be magical, just magical” to see Domingo sing in front of the towering main pyramid.
Archaeologists and activists have complained that concerts like Saturday’s expose ruin sites to additional damage and degrade their cultural significance by treating them as mere backdrops. Mexico’s federal government turns down most requests to hold concerts at ancient temples. But it faces increasing pressure from state governors to promote ruins which, critics argue, are already swamped with tourists.