Aneas, or Enée in French, was a hugely challenging role, one of the biggest challenges in my career. It was a special role for a special occasion, the centenary of the Met in 1983. I decided to do it and although I harbored some doubts until the last moment, I am very happy with the result..
The reason this part is considered one of the sacred monsters of the tenor repertoire is its lenght and tessitura. The latter is consistently high and often hovers on the passaggio. You also have some very strenous high notes to sing...
In our case almost everyone was satisfied, except for some critics who carped at the fact that I transposed the high C and the last few bars of Aneas´ last aria, the Farewell Aria... the fact that that´s all they found to say about it made me sick. So I thought, if that´s all they feel I have to offer, let them have other tenors! So I sang a few more performances and then withdrew..I have not sung it sinceThus, Plácido Domingo´s experience with Aeneas from Les Troyens, available on DVD as well.
It is exactly because of the very high tessitura of the part, that I was very surprised to see Jonas Kaufmann decide to take it on for the upcoming (June-July 2012) production of Les Troyens at the London Royal Opera. I am equally not at all surprised that he has now cancelled, though the reason for the cancellation is stated as tracheitis, which I have no reason to doubt. However, that said, the tessitura of Aeneas really is very high for him and he´d definitely have to be in top shape to do it.
Jonas Kaufmann will be replaced by Bryan Hymel, who sang Aeneas in Pierre Audi´s 2010 Amsterdam production.
Bryan Hymel in "Nuit d´Ivresse" (with Yvonne Naef), Amsterdam 2010:
And Placido Domingo with the same aria (and Tatiana Troyanos), The Met 1983: