Placido Domingo still can't sing Spanish anthem

Placido Domingo says he’s always longed to lead his country in a national anthem that unites Spaniards—but acknowledged on Wednesday that he’ll have to wait a little while longer.

The Spanish tenor was to premiere the new lyrics of his country’s anthem—a military march long performed without words—later this month.

But the proposed lyrics were withdrawn on Wednesday in Madrid amid criticism that they highlighted the country’s right-wing past and do not reflect Spain’s cultural diversity.

Domingo said on Wednesday that he and the Spanish Olympic committee that commissioned the lyrics have postponed the January 21 Olympic committee dinner debuting the lyrics.

“For something as important as a national anthem of your country, we need to have consensus,” Domingo said in an interview at La Scala, where he is singing the lead in the opera Cyrano de Bergerac.

Critics have complained that the proposed anthem—opening with a phrase, “Viva Espana”, associated with the late dictator General Francisco Franco—reflects the country’s nationalistic past and not its linguistic and cultural diversity.

The Olympic committee had received 7 000 entries, and a jury of six experts—including a musicologist, a historian, a composer and an athlete—settled on one as its official candidate to accompany the 1761 military march that has long been Spain’s anthem.

The plan was to collect half-a-million signatures to seek formal approval in Parliament.

But controversy erupted after a newspaper last week leaked the lyrics, which also include a call on Spaniards to “love the fatherland”—seen by some as a swipe at the culturally unique regions of Catalonia and the Basque country.

Domingo said a process would be sought to ensure the words unite Spaniards. It was not yet clear if the proposed text would be tinkered with or if they would start from scratch.

“With so many great writers in Spain, I am sure a solution can be found,” he said.

Domingo said he only hoped the idea would not be abandoned entirely. “It is something I have always felt disappointed and frustrated about,” he said.
“If there is an important event, you cannot sing along.”

While there is no deadline to the project, Domingo said it “would be great” if Spain’s Olympians had lyrics to sing at this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing.—Sapa-AP

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