LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo returned to the London stage this week for his debut in Giuseppe Verdi's "Nabucco", saying he has no plans to slow down with a packed schedule for the year ahead.
Domingo, 72, has spent the past three months performing Verdi in Valencia, Berlin, Vienna and New York and will sing in another six European cities in the next four months.
His website bears the motto "If I Rest I Rust" and Domingo said this was how he lived his life with no plans to change.
"I have been doing this all of my life and I plan to continue," he told Reuters backstage on Monday after the first of his four performances of "Nabucco" at London's Royal Opera House.
Domingo said he enjoyed the challenge of taking on a new role, the 142nd in a career that started in 1959, performing "Nabucco" for the first time as part of Verdi's 200th anniversary year celebrations.
Nabucco, Verdi's third opera, follows the plight of the Hebrews conquered and exiled from their homeland by Babylonian King Nabucco (based on the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar). Following the opera's premiere in Milan in 1842, Verdi was hailed as one of Italy's leading composers.
Domingo said it was a complicated part and he had had little time to rehearse before adding it to his recent Verdi baritone lead roles in "Simon Boccanegra" and "Rigoletto".
"But I am very happy with the way it has gone," he said.
"I feel with every opera that you do, you are looking for the next performance and to improve...It is amazing with all the repertoire that I have (done) that this is my first Nabucco role."
Critics praised Domingo's vigorous, baritone performance for bringing alive a production that will be played in cinemas globally on Monday April 29. He will perform the role at the Royal Opera House again on April 20, 23 and 26.
"His singing has such expressive beauty that he still commands the stage," wrote critic Michael Church in The Independent newspaper, urging people to catch the great singer while he is still in his prime.
While in London, the Madrid-born Domingo was to receive the ceremonial Freedom of the City of London honour on Tuesday in recognition of a career that has included 200 appearances at the Royal Opera House and performances alongside the late Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras as one of the Three Tenors.
Last year Domingo released his first album of pop songs in 20 years, featuring various duets including one with his son, Placido Domingo Jr., but he did not expect a swift follow-up.
"I have some classical things to do now. This was something special for me to do," he said. (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Paul Casciato)